by Angela Dube, LMFT
It’s not uncommon for parents to put the needs of their children above themselves. It’s hard not to. When they are first born, they are so vulnerable and literally need us to do everything for them. As they grow older, they learn to do more for themselves (thank goodness) but also still need a lot of support from us. It’s easy for us to forget ourselves, our own needs, and identities.
And there is so much pressure in our society to be the best parents. To ensure that our kids get nothing but the best. That they go to fancy private schools and eat organic meals. As women we are socialized to put everyone else’s emotional needs before our own. And society puts other pressures on men, such as being financial providers above connecting with family and taking care of their own needs. The result: a lot of neglected, burnt-out parents with children who are always looking for and needing more.
I have found in both my work as a child therapist and as a parent that when parents focus on their own needs more, children thrive. This is easier said than done because society has thoroughly taught us to do otherwise. Honestly, it takes learning and training to unlearn these thoughts and habits.
Parenting is the hardest job out there—waaaaay harder than going to work every day! Yet it’s expected for people to just know how to do it, and to selflessly give yourselves to your children without needing anything for yourself. Here’s the thing: parents need support too. Maybe even more so than the children. Because when we are at our best, our children feel it and are at their best too. We are more available to them to meet their needs and support them with their hardships because we have our oxygen masks on solidly. When we are fulfilled as individuals we have more capacity for love for others.
On the other hand, when starting a new job or career you are going to get education, training, and a supervisor to support you. Why shouldn’t we give ourselves the gift of training, guidance, and education to do the hardest job out there? Why shouldn’t we give ourselves the gift of prioritizing our own health so we can show our children how to be healthy emotionally, physically, and financially.
Therapy is an investment, in ourselves, in our children, in our futures, and for future generations to come. Let’s allow unhealthy patterns that have come before us to stop with us. Let’s grow a healthy next generation. So what are you waiting for? Let’s talk to see how I can support you with supporting yourself and being the strong leader your family needs.