A friend and I were chatting the other day. She is 20 years older than me and this month will make one year since her mother passed away. One of the very last things her mom said to her prior to passing was "don't be like me, live your life." It took my friend a little while to interpret what her mom meant but as the months went by, she began to understand exactly what she meant.
She shared with me that she feels this huge void now that her kids are grown and off doing their own thing and also because her mom is no longer here. Similar to her mom, she poured every ounce of her being into her children. But now that they're gone, there's no one to pour into. There's no one needing her attention. There's no one in need of help. She hit a huge roadblock in her life where she doesn't know who she is and what she likes to do. “They were my world, Kim” she said, as tears rolled down her face.
As parents, we can truly do ourselves a disservice when we opt to make our kids the center of our world. There's no rule that says kids can only feel loved if you make them the center of your world. Yet some parents still make that tough decision. And to each their own; we are all doing the best we can. But I've always felt very strongly about this topic and I want to give you my perspective on it. Here are my reasons why I don’t make my daughter the center of my world:
- Before there was her, there was me. I have a purpose in life. There are things that I value. I am my own person. I have visions and goals. I have friends who likes to hang out with me outside of playdates. I refuse to let all that go just because I am a mother. I want to continue working on being the best me I can possibly be during parenthood. I don't want, nor do I need, to wait until she leaves the house for college. Instead, I look for ways to incorporate what I enjoy doing while being a mom, without sacrificing those "mommy time" my kid needs. Trust me, it’s possible!
- Her end outcome is not dependent on whether or not she is the center of my world. Sure, your kid WILL test you to see if they can get to be the center of your world, but in the end it's not necessary. In order for a child to live happily and become a great human being it requires love, consistency, positive role modeling and discipline, to name a few. I believe that you will be thanked in the end for those things, over making them the center of your world. And even when you do those things I’ve listed, you have to remember they too are their own person. And their end outcome of who they will be in life consists of a mixture of experiences and life lessons.
- Your child being the center of your world ultimately means that they’re calling the shots. Because everything you do, everything you say and every decision to be made will always revolve around them. So everyone else will constantly be forced to take a backseat in every area of your life. Spouses included! That’s not balance, nor is it healthy. Kids need to understand how life really works and they’re not the ones calling the shots. This lesson can take them so far in life. Just think about all the times you thought you were calling the shots only to find out you weren’t.
- Raising a child to think that they're the center of your world somehow makes them feel as though they need to be the center of everyone else's world. And when that doesn't happen, Chucky comes out. You're setting them up for failure. Or better yet, your setting up the people that they will develop relationships with in the future for failure. So do them a favor TODAY, and let them know the world does not revolve around them and it probably never will.
- Making your kid the center of your world only tells others that you have no life and that your kid is your life. Is that true? And let’s not forget about that strange thing that happens when a kid turns 18. Your “life” as you know it changes drastically. Then what? You DO have a life and it’s OK to indulge in your hobbies and interests every now and then. Your child is a huge part of your life but they shouldn’t be “your life.” That is a recipe for an emotional rollercoaster when they hit certain age brackets because unfortunately, they will disappoint you. They’re humans too!
- Your child needs to know what a healthy adult looks like. What having a family really means. And what being a spouse really means. So if all you're modeling to them is to make their kids the center of their world, then the cycle just continues to repeat. And then you're stuck having to convince them that you made a mistake by doing that and you want better for them.
I love my daughter and I will do almost anything for her, and I also love me. I love the unique gifts and talents that I get to offer to the world on a daily basis. So there has to be a balance in how I do that while being a mother. There has to be a good mix of love and happiness that exist equally among both of us as individuals. Have I sacrificed at times for her? Sure! Have I said no to a night out with the girls? Of course I have! But those moments are not that often. Why? Because I value my adult time and being able to have a life outside of her. My daughter understands what balance is and appreciates the fact that I get to go out and be a “regular person.” Because in her head, a mother is not a regular person. Kids!
Figure out what works best for you. Is it once every two weeks or is it a day or night out once a month? Take some time to think about that and create a plan that is realistic for your family life.
My friend and I are putting a plan together to revamp, re-establish and reintroduce herself to the world. It will take time but better late than never. Her lessons learned were incredibly valuable to me and I thanked her for sharing that vulnerable moment with me.
Follow candidly kim on instagram @ candidly_kim. For more of her blogs, check out www.candidlykim.com