What is the greatest gift you can give your child? Is it a new toy, car, TV, computer, or wireless phone? Sure, those are all things that any kid depending on their age- would enjoy, but things wear out and lose their value. In today's upgrade and consumer driven world, there will always be another newer thing waiting to replace the last one.
When you became a parent, your world changed forever. You began living for someone else. Parenthood gave you the responsibility of caring for and protecting another human being. Unfortunately at this critical time, too many parents also start giving up on caring for themselves.
If your goal is to raise a happy, well-rounded and secure person, then you must take care of yourself with the same degree of intensity as you devote to raising your child.
The underlying parental fear of not giving enough has sidetracked parents into believing that they must give up everything they are and be focused entirely on their child.
Rearing a well-adjusted adult begins with your own health and personal resilience. Taking care of your self may seem like a nice dream that, when you wake up and start the day's routine, is quickly forgotten. It just doesn't seem to mesh with reality. To change that perception, you must believe that your own health and wellbeing has value.
Parenting is a long-haul proposition. It takes a lot of physical and emotional energy. Where do you get that energy? By maintaining and addressing your physical and emotional needs, you conserve the energy that you can share with others. Being over-tired and anxious makes it much harder to be patient, loving, kind and tolerant. Pushing yourself harder when your are already exhausted doesn't usually end up being a beneficial time together.
Children want their parents to be okay. They want to feel the safety of someone who has their best interest at heart, and can lead them by example. They feel calmer when they see their parents taking good care of themselves and are then able to take good care of them.
Whether you like or not, you set the example. You can imply by your actions the old adage, Do as I say, not as I do, but they will do as you do. Kids watch closely. They interpret actions more than words.
As parents, when we work hard for a better tomorrow, but also enjoy what each day brings, we set an example. When we handle the stresses of life in a positive way, we help our children feel more secure, less frightened. When we enjoy the time we have together we show that it truly is the journey that is more important than the destination. When we address our difficulties and admit we don't have all the answers, we show that there is no shame in imperfection. When we reach out to others when they need help, we model compassion. When we seek help from others, we show that even strong individuals are willing to ask for support and guidance. When we display the ability to cope with a crisis or a stressful situation, we show that there are positive ways to handle discomfort and personal pain.
Parents cant do all these things if they don't take care of themselves first. When an airline tells you in case of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first, it's because if you are disabled from lack of air, you can't help your child.
What kind of person do you want to see your child grow into? It's a profound question. How do you see your child as an adult with a possible family of his or her own? So many times you hear someone say, "I don't ever want to be like my parents", but as soon as they are parents, it changes to, " I hear myself saying the exact words my parents said, and doing the same things". Or, I have become my mother (father).
You are the model your child will use. Show that good parents are child-centered, but maintain a rich adult existence.
The goal of parenting is not to raise a happy 17 year-old. It is to raise a person who is prepared to be a healthy, loving, creative, compassionate, successful and happy adult. Take care of yourself, and show your child what that looks like.