I read an article recently and it isn’t the first one I have read that discussed how many of us parents put our children up on this pedestal. I never have. I do think highly of my children, I do love them and I do think that they have amazing, unique individual qualities. I do think that my kids are awesome! That is not to say they are perfect. That is not to say that they mean more to me than anything, let me rephrase that, my children are important in that I would die for them should that ever need to happen, but that doesn’t mean that they will take anything way from ME. I am the most important person, my well being, my ability to be in a loving, committed relationship, my ability to focus on my own passions and ability to pursue what makes me tick, is important.
I have watched as so many marriages have fallen apart once the children are grown and living outside of the home. I once heard a mother say, “I hate that he cheated on me, I am angry, but we simply were so busy raising our children that we neglected our relationship”. One day this couple woke up with no kids in the home and did not have a clue who either of them were. This is the case for many, we put our children first and neglect the people who have vowed to be there til death do us part, all in the name of
raising prioritizing children before our own needs.
It’s like your kids are grown, moved out and you wake up to a stranger. Your mind had been so focused on parenthood that you neglected the one person who will be there after the kids leave, because yes, let’s face it our kids are suppose to leave the nest. Don’t you want to ensure you feed your marriage/relationship while raising the children too? What is the point in being a parent if at the end of that full time job of parenthood, you find that you have lost who you are and lost the love for the one person who helped you on this journey? That would suck. I refuse to ever let that happen. I live for my children, but first and foremost I live for myself. To be all I can be. That is the role model I want to be. That is who I am.
While I cannot speak of what works best for your marriage and your world, I can speak of my world and what works best here. I have seen my first marriage end in divorce because one of the many reasons was – we had to focus on our sons; the first born son kept us pretty busy and we were stressed with finances, we fell apart. In all reality, we simply were not meant to work together because we didn’t and couldn’t. I am one who learns from my mistakes, or so tries to anyways. This time around, I am sticking to my commitment to the man I am engaged to. I adore him. We understand each other, we can communicate and we both work hard for not only our family unit, but for each other. We work to keep the love alive alongside raising four children who need a lot of support and guidance. There is not a day that goes by that Lee and I are not
bickering about discussing parenthood and our relationship. I am with a man who puts us in line first with the children, we both know our family unit will not survive if we don’t work to keep our own selves steady and happy.
There have been many a days where I have told one or more of my children, “I love you, always, never question that, but right now? I do not like you very much!” That is honesty. Children, just like adults, do need to hear that they are not easy to like. Not every parent gives birth to a child who matches well with them. I look at parenthood much like I took at adult relationships – not all people were put on this Earth to get along, it is completely normal and possible for your child’s personality to clash with yours. Obviously, if you are parenting a child where your two minds clash, it’s best to seek some guidance to ensure you raise your kid in a way that doesn’t ruin their self esteem and independent nature. Parenting is important, but so is being in love with your partner. I tell my kids this often.
Most recently, Lee and I had to get down and dirty with our household. It appeared having his teenage daughter move in with us caused a bit of a ruckus. Lee and I were off kilter, having taken the last year and a half working towards raising my three kids and still pursuing our personal relationship, we found ourselves with a teenager who didn’t have such a positive environment the last couple of years. Lee and I were clashing, arguing and even had a huge yelling blow out fight one evening when my kids were at their Dads and his was sleeping. It was hard. It was unsettling. My feelings are still hurt by that night, but I do love him. I am committed to our family, that means his teen, my three and him. I feel that he is also committed in the same ways. Which is why we work.
The easiest way to explain how I like my world to run is that the children know they are important, that I would do and will do anything for them, however, I will not destroy a relationship with a man I love because of them. If any of our four children are being unruly, rude or causing strain between Lee and I – we figure out a way to work with it. We do not allow our children to come before our love for each other because when these four kids are grown, we will be left to tend to each other and I will be damned if I wake up one day and not even know who he is. I refuse to wake up beside a stranger when our children are grown. He refuses the same.
Lee and I both believe in having our children raised in a way that truly prepares them for the real world and the real world won’t bow down to their every whimsical desire, so why would we?
This is why we parent in a realistic, cold-hard-truth telling, lovingly compassionate way, we want more for our children and we want more for each other!