Sacrificial Parenting – Does Being A Parent Take A Great Sacrifice?
I was five months pregnant when my gynae said I shouldn’t have fried food and chicken. I was going to get a heart attack while my mom giggled, sitting by my side. She told the doctor that those were my favorite things to eat. And the doctor smiled and said, “Well, you are a mother now, and motherhood is all about sacrifice.” So, Does every parent has to sacrifice?
Fast forward 3 years. My mom asks if I want tomato ketchup (which again is my favorite dip) with my snack; I say No because if I take it, my little boy will want to have it too, and it’s not good for children of his age. She smiles and says those golden words again- motherhood means sacrifice.
I don’t agree. I am not trying to negate the pain that many parents go through and their efforts to bring up a happy and healthy child.
Are Love & Sacrifice the Same?
As much as I understand the goodwill in which my mother, the doctor, or any other mother says this, I fail to understand why the idea sustains in our society. The all-consuming sacrificial culture often deprives parents and most mothers of doing things they like, such as pursuing a career or learning a new skill (like dancing or painting), or even having their favourite chocolate without sharing it with his/her kids.
Wanting these things doesn’t mean that one doesn’t love his/her child. Many parents let such pleasures go considering the resources that can be used for the children instead of the momentary happiness that it gives them. And sometimes, even out of the fear of getting judged for not being a “good parent”. What the world needs to learn is that being selfish is not always wrong. Parents need small outlets to enjoy their lives and achieve things they dreamt of. It’s their life too.
Another problem is that when a parent make such minor and big “sacrifices”, one expects returns, rewards, and gratitude in exchange. How often have we heard parents say that I did everything for her and made so many sacrifices, but all I got in return was thanklessness? Why do parents expect gratitude in return for the things they emotionally, legally, and rightfully owe their kids?
Most grown-up adults have kids because they want to. The child that my partner and I brought into this world is our responsibility. He didn’t ask me to do him a favour or sign a contract with me to give him birth. It was our choice and our decision. Providing good food, a hygienic shelter, clothes, education, entertainment, and most of all, our love and time is our responsibility and not his charity.
Now you may think that I’m advocating for children to be ungrateful. No, I am not. Of course, it is a blessing to have a healthy and happy life. Children (and all people, for that matter) should be grateful for all they have. The issue is when a parent demands honour to his/her “sacrifices” when children make major life decisions such as relating to a career or choosing a partner.
Live & Let Live
What all parents need to understand is that your children are individuals who happened to come to this world through you. You don’t own them. Parents are only humans who might make mistakes, who may or may not learn from their experiences. Parenting is probably the only thing in the world that is as old as the world itself and yet has no fool-proof method. Your child may not be perfect, but neither are you! We often hear that every child is unique; well, every parent is also unique.
Many parents say that they try to control their child’s life so that he/she doesn’t make the same mistakes they did in their lives. Parents are protective of their children. But they should know when to let go. Let the children live their lives the way they want, make their own mistakes, have their good and bad days, and learn their own lessons. Also, check out this article on Child’s Higher Education v/s Your Retirement: Which One To Prioritise As A Parent?
Values Are All That Matter
As a parent, teach your children good values by setting an example yourself. They most likely learn it when they see love, compassion, kindness, and sincerity in you. And someday, these values might payback as some form of gratitude. Gratitude cannot be demanded or snatched.