Consolation Thoughts

We Are Here to Help Our Children–Not the Other Way around

It’s about meeting their needs—not having them meet ours.

I’m not talking about teaching our children how to work hard at something (so, like, we request their help around the house with tasks that are developmentally appropriate and we expect them to do their homework once they’re in school and we support them in developing responsible habits as they get older).

I’m talking about using our children as objects to meet our own needs, fulfill our agenda, and bring us happiness without any regard to their own needs, wants, or dreams.  Our children do not exist for this purpose.  Their role in life is not to help us out in this sense.

Whatever our children need, it is our job to help them get that need met to the best of our ability.  If we need outside help to achieve this end, then we seek out outside help.  We do whatever we need to do.

Not all mothers (or fathers) choose to or are economically (or mentally or emotionally or professionally) able to stay home with their children, but for those who do stay home, just because you stay home with your kids doesn’t mean that you can check the box for “met my kids’ needs.”  Whatever our children need, we help them with it.  Period.  It doesn’t matter if we stay home with them or not.  We help our children because that is what we are here for.

I make this distinction because it makes a difference in the way we approach our children—especially if we feel particularly worn down or if we feel like we do enough for them.  If our children are having difficulties regulating their emotions, for example, then it’s our responsibility to help them develop and use the tools they need to navigate through their world.  They copy us a lot, so it helps them if we help ourselves in the emotions regulation department.

To expect our children to meet our emotional (and otherwise) needs is completely inappropriate, and the sooner we can get off the delusional merry-go-round of how-can-my-kids-make-me-happy and walk the harder but higher road of how-can-I-better-encourage-the-growth-of-skills-in-my-children-that-will-bring-them-happiness, the sooner we will be able to see our children for the individuals they are and the better we will be able to nurture and protect their unique interests and talents.

What are your thoughts about meeting our children’s needs instead of expecting them to meet ours?