to wonder if putting our children first is always wise?

(460 Posts)
KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 09:37:25

I like to start a discussion I in the morning and then go to work so I have something to pop in on during the day. grin

Ok, the other day I felt guilty because I was physically exhausted and so blew off sports day in order to rest before a busy evening ferrying kids about.

I felt guilty because I felt like it's wrong not to suffer any inconvenience or discomfort for even the most trivial of my children's pleasure. I "should" suck it up and stand around in the cold watching races just so my kids see me there. But, why? How is it really good for an exhausted mother with aching feet to do this? Isn't it better for mum to be rested and happy at tea time?

Obviously, some things are so important that you carry on, regardless. I didn't cancel a client in order to rest: the money is important to the family. And, if the event had been something truly important, then it would be a different matter. I would stand cold and aching if it was truly important to the child's well being.

I see a lot of threads on here from exhausted, miserable mums who are burnt out and resentful about their lives. Is some of that due to prioritising the family over their own well being?

MrsDeVere Wed 26-Jun-13 10:35:38

My kids always come first. Have done from the moment I knew I was pg with DD 22 years ago.
4 more DCs later and my world totally revolves around them.

But that doesn't mean I go to every sports day, open day, parent's evening and take them from club to club.

They are put first in that I make sure that I can feed them and keep them safe and educate them and love them.

So the jobs I have taken, the work I do, the way my life is organised is pretty much all about their needs.

Its much bigger picture than being the parent who shows up at every event.

I don't need to prove it (not saying that those of you who DO got to everything are doing it to prove it!).

I changed me life plans totally to take care of DS2 because he arrived out of the blue with no preparation and no clue about how long he would be with us (forever as it turns out grin ) and I gave up everything to care for DD when she got sick.
I bet even the most reluctant Sports Day Attendee would do exactly the same.

And thats what really counts IMO.

TroublesomeEx Wed 26-Jun-13 10:40:29

Katy because I always view watching TV as being what you do when you have nothing else on, not something you'd timetable in as a 'thing'.

My stbxh would have started going on about marginal utility at around this point!

So - the pleasure my child would derive from attending a birthday party would be greater than the pleasure I would achieve from sitting on my bum watching TV.

motherinferior Wed 26-Jun-13 10:41:06

Plenty of parents don't go to bloody sports day, as demonstrated by the letters home from school asking us to go. It's hardly as if my own moppet (whose sports day is in fact today) is weeping piteously because everyone else's adoring mummy is cheering them on grin

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 10:41:58

Ah, my sympathy if you are married to a utilitarian! wink But, I do kind of see the point of the reasoning.

Lovelygoldboots Wed 26-Jun-13 10:42:28

The thing is there are so.many things that are only "once a year". Harvest festival, Xmas plays, mothers day assemblys, school trips that require parent helpers etc etc. I try and go to as many as I can but I have sacked off sports day before because of feeling drained and being with a toddler who just ran amok. I am a sahm.

Beechview Wed 26-Jun-13 10:44:15

I don't believe in always putting my kids first. I am a person in my own right and sometimes a have a life separate to them.
I do believe in making my kids feel loved and valued and I think its important to develop their self esteem by taking an interest and encouraging them in their life.
Attending an event in their life and cheering them on is part of that.
However, if you can't attend an event and explain to them why not then that's fine.
When they expect you to be there and can't find you amongst all their friends parents then I think that affects them.

Verycold Wed 26-Jun-13 10:44:29

I agree. I am going back to work in September and won't be able to attend any school events. I have worked out that it will mean disappointing my children about 16 times over the next year - that's how many events it adds up to for two dc. 16!

DeWe Wed 26-Jun-13 10:46:39

I don't think you always put your children first. However I wouldn't expect my dc to not do something because they were "tired" unless they were ill tired. So I wouldn't not do something for them because I'm tired.

And in your sports' day thread you wrote:
One child doesn't care. The other would like me there, but I have warned him that I can't make it. He won't be disappointed in a surprised sense, at least.
So one of your dc did want you there. That's what I find sad about your attitude. At things like that you always see the one or two hopeful faces checking the parents as they come in, and the gradual sadness as they realise they're not coming.
I'm not sure what's sadder, seeing those faces or the year 6 boy (usually a tough nut) who said to me "dm never can come to things like this. It doesn't mean she doesn't care, but I wish she would come, but she always is too busy on the day". He wasn't disappointed in a surprised sense. He was disappointed in a resigned sense.

OctopusPete8 Wed 26-Jun-13 10:47:43

I think there's a balance, I grew up onthat sacrificing your convinience for a childs welfare is of upmost importance in parenting, and I have a lot of respect for my mum because In know she did a lot of it.

However, I do not expect anything from her now as I know she did so much for me then,
Sports day, hmm could dad have gone?

Groovee Wed 26-Jun-13 10:52:14

My children have often come first but there are times when dh and I have time away. I feel guilty about leaving them behind but at the same time, I know they are well cared for and well looked after.

If I can't make sports day, then my mum loves to go and support. My mum retired last year and is up for anything these days.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 10:53:15

DeWe, why is it bad for a child to be resigned to occasional mild disappointment?

"I am not going to make it to the event because I need to rest. " Why is that so terrible? I then took him to Beavers and took his brothers to McDonald's, as I was rested enough to feel up to it, having laid down for a few hours in the afternoon.

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Jun-13 10:57:26

So - the pleasure my child would derive from attending a birthday party would be greater than the pleasure I would achieve from sitting on my bum watching TV.

Perhaps utilitarian but very true. It's about balancing everyone's need.

Because my needs to be happy also include me having a life of my own, it also means that sometimes my dcs aren't going first.

eg; dc had an invite for a sleep over one weekend. I was working on the sunday. Dh involved in a hobby the same day. We organized ourselves so that DH would pick up dc in the am and the drop dc at my PIL for the day.
Inconvenient BUT dc was very very keen on the sleep over with his best friend. If it hadn't been so important for dc (eg a 'normal' brithday party with all class invite), we wouldn't have made the ffort.
Then DH's friends changed the plan for the day which meant a earlier meat up and DH knew he would never make it. DH cancelled his plans for the day because we already had said Yes to our dc.
It's very much about evaluating the needs of the different members of the family and trying to see whose needs are the greatest.

You also have to remember that quite often children have no idea what sort of effort is involve with going to sports day etc on their parents pov... dc1 has just realized that sitting for 2 hours on the side of a swimming pool/tennis court/football pitch/sports day (delete as appropriate) can be very boring and not much fun when he had to do it with me for his sibling. I reminded him that I do that for him (and other dcs) every week... It never crossed his mind that it could be a chore for anyone coming along hmm that is until he had to experienced it himself.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 11:02:36

You know how on airplanes they always say that you should put the oxygen mask on yourself before your child? It's because it is necessary to be taken care of in order to be able to care for your child.

I think that's a good analogy for life.

CaptainSweatPants Wed 26-Jun-13 11:03:30

'Verycold Wed 26-Jun-13 10:44:29

I agree. I am going back to work in September and won't be able to attend any school events'

that's ot the same as going to bed for the afternon instead of attending sports day

CaptainSweatPants Wed 26-Jun-13 11:04:06

missing events because of work is different to just not liking them, being too tired to go

Yes, it's not like you told him you were missing it so you could go out on the town and get your nails done or something. 'I don't feel well and I need to rest' is a valid excuse. I don't like the idea that kids can't handle this idea, I would like my own DS to have empathy for people not feeling well, not expect them to sacrifice their health and wellbeing every time.

motherinferior Wed 26-Jun-13 11:05:23

Depends what's on the telly, anyway.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 11:05:30

What is wrong with being too tired and needing to rest? Why is that not important? What is the virtue in being exhausted and physically and emotionally worn out?

kim147 Wed 26-Jun-13 11:05:37

I've missed the last two sports days - I work as a supply teacher and to be honest, money is more important to our family than watching sports. Work's been quiet so I have to grab the chance when I can. I hope DS can understand that.

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Jun-13 11:09:46

It's because it is necessary to be taken care of in order to be able to care for your child.

YY but most people I know have not learnt that rule until they've really crashed head first on a BIG problem and had to learn about taking care of themselves and the fantastic positive influence taking care of yourself has on the family as a whole and on the dcs.

Ladyindisguise: there certainly was a point to me going - they saw that I was there and I was awake enough to see where they came in their races and to be able to talk them about it when they came home. I might have dozed off in between, but it wasn't just a token presence. However, even if it was, I still think there's a value in just being there. I feel really sorry for kids at these kinds of events when everybody else's mum or dad is there except theirs (my children have been in this situation, I'm not judging).

Not sure whether the martyr comment is aimed at me? I'm not surprised if it is, but I'm really not a martyr to my children (I don't stay up all night sewing costumes for the school play!) I just think that if I can do something like sports day then I should.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 11:14:39

I think mums do the martyrdom dance because they are insecure about the worth of their role. So, if they suffer, it means they're doing something important.

I am not sure if fathers have a parallel to that. Perhaps working long hours in order to be a good provider? But that gets more recognition as worthy activity and identity.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 26-Jun-13 11:17:10

Mrs Minver, I don't mean to single you out as a martyr. Just that what you chose to do could be what a martyr does.

If you found it rewarding in some way to be there, then fair enough. But someone else may do the same and be resentful. Or, may choose otherwise and feel judged.

xylem8 Wed 26-Jun-13 11:17:30

I think you should put your child's needs above your own, but not necessarily their wishes.

Kat101 Wed 26-Jun-13 11:20:03

It's about balance for everyone in the family. Show up to what you can, warn your kids in advance if you can't make it.

I don't like sports day so only go once every few years. The format is about 20 different activities spaced around the playground and field, nowhere designated for parents to be. If you follow your child round to watch them you get in the way, but if you stay in one spot you don't see them doing the stuff anyway. I'd rather save my time for concerts that they're in, at least we get to see each other and I can sit down instead of falling over hoops or being trampled by groups of children.

Only about 20 parents go to our sports day so I presume most of them think the same.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now