What to do When Your Kid Calls You Selfish
“Don’t you know that Mommy and Daddy think you and your brother are the most important people in the world?” a mother asks rhetorically as she tries to reassure her son.
Imagine her surprise when her son responds, “No, Mommy, you think you are more important than I am.”
Needless to say she had a visceral reaction, like a punch to the gut.
Amazingly, the mother stays calm and asks for clarification. The boy explains that she cares more about herself because she does things like go to the gym and out with her friends when she could be with him instead.
Upon hearing this, her inner dialogue starts:
- “I must be doing something wrong for him to say that.”
- “No matter what I do, it is not enough”
- “Now, I have to deal with the fact that he just said that because, according to the dictates of modern parenting, every moment is a teaching moment.”
That’s when she knew she needed some space to calm down. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get the space she needed because she was driving the (ungrateful) son to a travel soccer game 40 miles away. So, she had to wait to take care of herself.
Every parent I know struggles to balance care-taking with self-care.
Here is what to do when you find yourself unappreciated:
- Take a deep breath
- Remind yourself that kids do not have the capacity to understand how much we give of ourselves to them.
- Take another deep breath.
- Call your friend to tell her what happened and how you feel.
- Take another deep breath.
- Repeat as needed.
We need to dispel the myth that a good parent is selfless.
Self-care is mandatory. You cannot be last on your own list.
This mindset is one of the first topics we discuss in The Mommy Bond. Many new mothers confuse being a mother with doing the tasks of home-making, especially if they are taking a leave from their paid careers focus solely on motherhood.
I encourage moms to let go of the pressure to get everything done by reminding them that a parent’s job is to foster the growth of the child.
Is having all the laundry done, toys put away, meals made from scratch, etc. really fostering the growth of your child?
It’s not that the tasks don’t need to be done. Of course, they do, and they will.
But should these tasks take priority over self-care? In a word: NO!
Self care must be a priority because it allows us to be our best selves. When we don’t take care of ourselves, we burn-out. Being a parent is a tough job, one that is made more difficult when you are physically and emotionally drained. (For more on burn-out and how to avoid it click here.)
Please, take some time just for yourself, to do whatever would be most nurturing for you. Whatever that is. Don’t wait for a special occasion to incorporate more of it into your life. You deserve it.