OK In Health - Parenting Tips

Are You Doing TOO Much for Your Children? - June 2020

When I Discovered That I Didn’t Have To Be Super Mom or Super Parents

By Maggie Reigh, Kelowna, BC

I used to feel a little inadequate and guilty because baking goodies for the kids and keeping their rooms neat and tidy wasn’t what turned me on. I felt I should want to do more for my children, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do – and on top of that, I should enjoy it! 

I let go of that guilt, however, when I discovered that I didn’t have to be Super Mom and do it all for my family. In fact, honoring me and what I loved to do left space for others to step up to the plate and contribute - and to my delight, they actually enjoyed it sometimes!
Here’s a story to show you what I mean. You may recognize it from “9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You & Your Child.”

Revitalized and invigorated after my long walk in the hills, I burst into the house. The enticing aroma of freshly baked cake greeted my nostrils and like a character in the cartoons, I followed the wafting scent right up the stairs and into the kitchen. I was starving! A piece of cake was just what I needed – or so said my salivating taste buds anyway.

I found my 14-year-old son just removing a marvelous chocolate cake from the oven. “Oh, that smells good, Tyler!” I bent my head directly over the cake and inhaled deeply. “Ahhhhhhhhh…” I patted the top with my finger and it sprang back immediately. “Perfect,” I said. “Tyler, you’re such a wonderful baker.”
Tyler smiled wanly and I continued, “So Tyler, can we have some now? Can we?” The thought of sinking my teeth into a piece of cake was so exciting that I found myself doing a little jig right then and there. Tyler turned to face me, an oven mitt still on one hand and the other hand on his hip. “Mom,” he said sternly, “don’t you think there’s something wrong with this picture? I mean, isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Aren’t I supposed to be the one dancing around begging for cake and you the one baking it?”

There was a split second of silence as we each captured a comic snapshot of this scene in our mind, and then we both burst into laughter. I gave Tyler a big hug and a peck on the cheek and replied simply, “Not if we really expect to eat cake!*”

I often hear from parents that they just give and give and give to their children and their children don’t even seem to appreciate it! Have you ever thought that your children may actually want you to take time for yourself, and stop doing everything for them? On another occasion where I’d come in from a walk right before dinner, during the meal blessing one of my kids said, “And thank you God, for giving Mom the hills to go and walk in because she is always so much easier to live with when she comes back!” 

Doing too much for others and not enough for ourselves has many drawbacks. Take a moment to put yourself in your child’s shoes... if mom or dad is giving and giving and giving, what are children doing? Taking, and taking, and taking! Now ask yourself how fulfilling it is to simply take and not give... to never be needed! When children perceive themselves as needed and truly contributing to the family, their sense of self esteem and importance in the world increases and they learn to be increasingly self-sufficient…which is our goal as parents, remember? 

So do yourself and your kids a favor - invite and teach your children to do more to contribute to your home, and then step back and recognize the new strengths and abilities that your child is developing. Don’t expect them to perform tasks as well as you can, allow for mistakes, and appreciate what they do accomplish. Refrain from doing it over. However, you may want to make a mental note to work alongside of them next time! 

As they are ready to handle it, let go and give them new responsibilities and power in other areas of their lives as well. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself in ongoing power struggles. A two-year-old’s resounding “No!” is often a signal that they are ready to handle more power. Is this a chore, task or a decision that they can make themselves? Are they now ready to dress themselves, clear their own plate, pick up their own toys etc? 

Psychologist and author Rudolph Dreikurs said, “Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.” (This includes, teen-agers, by the way!) Now I know that it just seems easier and a lot more efficient to do it yourself sometimes, but taking the time to help children to learn to do for themselves and patiently supporting them in doing so will reap benefits for the rest of your lives. Your children to mature into self-sufficient, caring human beings if you recognize and honor their growing capacity to make decisions for themselves and at the same time expect them to take more responsibility in contributing to the home environment.
And the joy of this is that it will free you up to devote more attention to your own dreams. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the greatest gift you can give your children is to live your own life fully and joyfully? 

Celebrate your life and remember, “Your children are watching you. You can best inspire them to live their dreams by living yours. You inspire them to be all that they can be by being all that you can be. Making time for yourself and taking care of you and your dreams is not selfish; it is essential to the happiness of your family, it is essential to the health of your children. You will not “find” this time to look after you; you have to take it; you have to create it.*”

* Passages taken from 9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You and Your Child. Find it at www.maggiereigh.com

Maggie ReighMaggie's Bio: Maggie Reigh is an international speaker, playshop facilitator, and storyteller, as well as a certified hypnotherapist. She is the author of the book and program series '9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You & Your Child', and of the family activity package, 'Taking the Terror Out of Temper Tantrums'. Maggie specializes in helping people to release deeply embedded thought and behavior patterns that no longer work so that they can create joyful, positive, and meaningful relationships with self and others. Contact Maggie through her website. Lake Country BC - Maggie Reigh Website - Email

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