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I have often thought the same thing Tertia. My two boys are the center of my world too, and though I grapple with wondering if this is a good or bad thing, I really wouldn't know how to do it differently either.

It actually could cut both ways: In households where the parents put themselves first and make the kinds fit into THEIR world...well, that could teach the kids to only look out for number one (being themselves). And in households where the kids ARE the number one...well, that could also teach them to only look out for themselves.

I think what matters most, yet unfortunately doesn't always happen, is that parents teach their kids to not only respect and love themselves, but to respect and love others as well. Hopefully that's what all parents would STRIVE for, no matter what their method. Sometimes the message gets across, and sometimes it doesn't. All you can do, is do your best.

I think you're doing well with the way you're doing it, and I hope that I am too.

You know, I think there's a balance to be found, no? That's the hard part. But it's SUCH a hard judgment call to make. I teach, and while it's certainly not the same as having your own, it's still a balancing act. I teach early intervention, young students with autism, and some of my students have more significant needs than others. I spend my day, running, trying very very hard to make sure that each student not only has their language/OT/academic needs met, but they also enjoy their time just being young children in my classroom. Sometimes, though, just due to logistics, a child has to "make do" with what I can offer them. When we nap, I can't hold/rock/pat more than two children at once. I realize that naptime individually is not a big deal, and that adjusting to being in a group is part of going to school, but sometimes the whole day is like that. I have a assistant, but we cannot give everything to every child. The reality of life dictates that we do the best dang job we can with what we have to work with. Sometimes that means that a upset child (obviously no serious injury or safety issue) has to wait until I finish changing a diaper. And I guess that's my point. You just do the best you can. Sometimes that means that everything can't be perfect, and you end up having to "fly by the seat of your pants". Just my two cents, take from it what you will. :)

Ohhh, I feel very strongly about this and I remember the original(I think) story you are referring too. The lady who came off as being soooo in love with her husband but not her kids. It did sound awful even though I understood what I believe she was trying to say and I mostly agree. We choose our spouse, the person we are suppose to want to spend the rest of our lives with. I want that to be a joyful, loving, fun, passionate and fulfilling relationship- more so than any other relationship I have had or ever will have. My children were given to us to love, nurture and let go of into the world to make their own paths. So I see it as the spousal relationship is two roads merging into one whereas the kids roads will separate at some point. If we do not put our partner first- what happens when the kids grow up and go? We see what happens in the divorce statistics. I also hope that my children will always have us together as a soft place to fall(I know my parents are for me) and that can only happen if we stay strong and committed.
I am a stay at home parent, so in a way my day to day life does revolve around my kids- pick up, drop off, feed, clothe, etc. But my kids are used to being told to wait a few minutes because mom and dad are talking, do not enter our bedroom without knocking, do not try to push in between us as we are hugging or snuggling(we did not have this rule when they were little so this is more about my 6 yr old mama's boy:). It's tough though to set those boundaries sometimes. My daughter is a huge daddy's girl and I struggle to not baby my youngest boy.
My ultimate hope is that we are setting an example of what kind of relationship I'd like them to grow up and be in. I had a uncle who died very suddenly years ago. After his funeral my aunt was so serene and as we were talking she said what she was most grateful for was that her 3 children had grown up observing such a strong, loving marriage and she hoped they all could find that one day. Man that still gets to me. I often think about that when observing some of my friends and even my own relationship in tough times- would I be happy if my sons or daughter grew up to be in a relationship/marriage like that?
I like to say the family comes first. Not child over parent/partner or vice versa. If we were in a sinking ship and I could only save my spouse or my kids, the kids win every time- any child would actually. But if someone offered me a choice between spending a day of fun and leisure with either the husband or my kids- the husband wins that one...almost every time;-)

An important factor to remember is that one day our children will leave our homes and run families of thier own.
Then what.
We have forgotten who we are as people. We are NOT JUST parents, we are individuals too. And that should never be neglected.

This is an interesting topic, I've always thought that the kids should fit in with the parents so they wouldn't be the 'centre of the universe'. However, I have struggled to fall pregnant and one day when I succeed, I wonder whether my view would change i.e. would an IVF baby then become the 'centre of my universe'? Does one's view change if you struggle to conceive? Comments?

My mom made me the center of her universe and it actually affected me really negatively. She wouldn't do anything for herself; she'd never buy herself new clothes because why would she spend that money on herself when she could spend it on me? She only gave herself any credit if she could get that credit through me (for example, if I was good at X, she would say, "Oh, I'm good at X, too! You get that from me!"). The burden of being her everything was (and is) simply too great. I made huge sacrifices in attempts to make her happy, because I had been raised to believe that *I* was the key to her happiness. Children are small, unique beings in whose eyes adults have a lot of power. They absolutely deserve special consideration. But it's like the airplane safety demonstration: You have to put the oxygen mask yourself on first before helping the child next to you. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.

I guess the children's age plays a role in this. In the first few years of life, children take a central role in most parents' life - and I don't think that's a bad thing if it doesn't lead you to disregard the rest of the world, including other children. (I do have a pique on those mothers who blame everybody else for their offspring's deeds and never take responsibility - so why should the child?)

When my four were younger, they were pretty much the center of my universe and I put my husband's and my own needs asides. Over the years, there has been a shift. The children are still the center of my emotional universe and I still find them as cute and beguiling as on the day they flashed their first toothless smile at me - but I have to set them free, have to give them the long rein to make experiences, develop emotional bonds to other people and take responsibility for their own deeds. Without "mama to the rescue" at all costs.

I think when we let the toddler-mama-mode take over for adolescents (and three of my four are adolescents by now...), then we are making a grave mistake.

We educate our children NOT in order to stay our cute little babies. We educate them to become responsible, friendly, well-mannered, considerate, capable adults. This means we have to eradicate their need for mama, as difficult as we may find it.

When they are young, it's easy to overlook this bitter truth of parenting. What you invest today, you will never get back. The love and attention you give to your children will give them a good start, and one day they will hopefully be good spouses and parents themselves. We pay it forward with our children. This inner selflessness of parenting, this stepping back from our children's lives, is in my opinion the real touchstone of good parenting.

I understand when mothers of toddlers don't see the age of independence coming, but it will. And then we have to set them free, even if it hurts. And it DOES hurt. I'm in the middle of this process and I have come to accept that my children turn slowly but surely into young adults with their own opinions about life. It enriches me and I learn new things from them, too.

Sorry for the rant but this is a topic I feel extremely strong about...

If you ever figure out how NOT to make your kids the centre of your world, please let me know. It's killing me. I have time for the kids and work, but ZERO else. And obviously the DH is not liking it one bit. I just don't know how else to do it.

I also think that we need to remember that, our children are happy when we are happy. They feed off us. And that sometimes in order of them to truely be content we need to be selfish and take that extra bit of time for ourselves and our partners.

Will keep my comment short as I think it gets difficult to read all the comments when they're lengthy.

I have pondered at times the intensity of involvement and introspection I sometimes read on your site from both you and your readers. I realise that it's because most of you have very young children. It does ease off as they got older and they need you a little less, and eventually they demand that you back off as they want their privacy and freedom to make thier own choices.

What's VERY important to remember though, is that you need to do it far earlier than they ask for it. You will look back and recognise that you over-analysed minor issues and that you stepped in more than you needed to, and by then you will have wasted all that energy. I think that the fact that this realisation is occuring to you now, speaks volumes and I strongly encourage to ponder it long and hard. Our inner wisdom knows so well what is healthy for us - if we would only listen to it. Give some thought to why you feel the need to over-involve yourself with your children and why you elevate their needs above your own. Let these moments speak to you of what your real needs are and how you may be mis-interpreting them through projecting the care YOU need, into caring for them more than THEY need. Said with MUCH love and care for you.

After my first daughter was born, I couldn't justify staying home beyond the first 6 months, so I went back to work. Later, when my twins were born, I stayed home with them for 18 months, until I felt like there was no ME left. My life revolved around them and around their needs. Even when I went back to school and started taking courses, I still hard a hard time finding myself in the whole picture - as anything beyond being their mother. I decided at that point that my kids needed to go to daycare and that I needed to take some time to recover. It was a long process and I vowed never to do that to myself or to my kids again - I'd much rather show them that I'm a strong, independent, happy person - and not just a mom. Being just a mom made me their servant. Being a person AND their mom made them learn that they need to respect me as a human being - and with that, to respect other people and to understand that the world doesn't revolve around them. I feel this has been much better all around.

When my oldest was almost 9 and my twins were 6, I divorced their father. We moved into our own apartment and the kids felt safe, knowing that I was fully capable of caring for them. They never felt any guilt when they went to their dad's house, because they knew that their mom actually ENJOYS time without them too...

Doing this the second time around (I remarried and had 2 kids within 2 years) I decided to put my marriage first and the kids second. They have my attention until around 8, but after that, it's OUR time - mine and my husband's.

From everything I've read and from what I see, this is better for everyone. My kids needs still often come first, but there's also a ME in the story :-)

"I hope that we aren’t raising a generation of self-centred, self indulgent people who have an enormous sense of entitlement."

As a college student and a product of a generation of parenting and parenting advice that put it's entire focus on making children happy, full of (often falsely earned) self-esteem, and, as you said, the center of their parents' universe, I implore you and all of the mothers that read this that if you follow the same over-indulgent patterns, you will raise the kind of 'self-centred, self indulgent people who have an enormous sense of entitlement" that I find myself surrounded by in my generation. Everyone seems to think that they are so special that things should go their way and many are crushed when thy don't. Children need to experience unfulfilled want, discipline, disappointment, and failure just as much as they need love, care, and support. Yes, you are the cushion between your children and the world, but someday they will have to face that world head on, you need to prepare them for it. It's a fine line to walk and the occasional indulgence isn't going to spoil them, but you need to help them to create a realistic worldview.

Certainly the vigilance that you show for your children's health and safety is not a bad thing, that's what parents should be doing, but your children should not be the center of your world. Think about it, if you don't put your marriage before the kids, even the strongest spousal bond will develop cracks; neglecting a husband can be dangerous. You were a wife first and a mother second and that's how it should continue to be.

Let me correct myself; you are a woman first, a wife second, and a mother third. Each level supports the other so both the woman and wife parts need to maintain their strength.

i think when kidlets are small, they should be the centre...this does change later on, so don't stress too much... try to raise your kids to be independant...i think it's the biggest gift you can give them... that's my focus these days... !!

Tertia, it would be interesting if you did one of your Poll's on this.

I know you say you are not a "happy clappy", not exactly sure how that reflects on your believes. But I am Christian, at our marriage preparation course that one of our ministers presented he discussed this topic. In short he said that the "order" in your life should be: God first, then your marriage, then your kids, your family, work and friends.

He said it is our responsiblity towards our children to provide them with a stable and happy home. You do this by protecting your marriage.

What is Siste Mel's view on this?

I think Anny's comment is great, and I strongly agree with her.

Oh yeah. OoOOOH Yeah. TERTIA ARE YOU PSYCHIC? how is it that you write exactly what we're thinking all the time?

I'm fighting this one right now. Grappling this is the hardest thing ever.

Listen to your commenters, they are wise!! Most of the above commenters anyway. I think balance is key. I think in certain things they do come first, for example you don't want to be going out all the time and not spending time with them. But on the other hand you cannot spend all your time with them. There must be some alone time and some partner time.

Also, as they get older their needs differ. They need to learn discipline and independence and you have to give them that. I think it is harder to do when you have battled to conceive or have experienced loss. They have to learn about boundaries and I am sure that although you think that your kids have fewer boundaries than some other kids, they do have boundaries, you do discipline them.

In the old days, I think it appeared that parents were doing things differently because life was different. There were not so many working moms and there were not so many therapies available. Their lives probably did revolve as much around their kids as ours do but it was not so noticeable because having kids did not involve so many changes to their lives.

I love that I have recieved some really solid advice here. Am going to make an effort to put my man first, but he needs to do the same. Think I may have to get him to have a little read!! Well done T and T's readers!

Uh. How true this rings. Yes, I feel the same. And the same goes for my childhood. Exactly the same as yours. (But you know, even my parents behave differently now towards my son, their grandson, who's in their care when I work, then they did when my brother and I were little. Even their world now revolves around him!)
I sometimes wonder whether it is this way with me, and you, because we've gone through the difficult road of IVF etc. Maybe it is only us whose world revolves around their children... We are soooo much aware how valuable they are.
But then I take a look at others around me and I do see it elsewhere too.

But there's one more question, apart from the one 'what will the new generation be like if we go on like this' (although I cannot see myself behaving otherwise, just like you) is the following: what are we doing to ourselves....?
The other day I found out that my 'dear' husband has had an on-and-off affair with his assistant for the past year. That is, it started when our little one was still a baby, just learning his first steps. During those special milestones. Incredible. For me, nothing else existed. (Although I was already back at work, had regained my social life etc.)
No, one should never blame oneself for the crap the wrongdoer did, even he doesn't blame me but only himself, he says there was nothing wrong with me or our marriage... that he is simply such a huge disappointment to himself.
Fully agree.
But still... one can't but ask oneself, for one brief moment, would it have happened had i been focused more on myself and my husband and us too and our marriage, then on my child....?

hehe sorry for the spelling mistakes - two "then's" instead of "than's" - ooooops, what a blunder for a girl who majored in english... shame on me :-)

I agree with Rachel. Newer generations have a much higher percentage of entitled brats that seem unable to deal with life. I think the way to teach children a healthy respect (and not an overwhelming respect) for themselves is to SHOW them that you respect yourself enough to take care of you and your marriage first. I read somewhere that a particular woman's goal was to show her kids that "You matter, and so do I." I think that is a great philosophy.

Making infants and toddlers the center of your universe makes sense, because they need so much care and attention to develop properly. However, once they get older they need to learn that they aren't the center of the universe, or they will not treat you and others with respect, and they will expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. We are their parents and we love them unconditionally, but we are also their teachers, and we are trying to make them into good human beings. We are doing our children a great disservice if we don't teach them that out in the big world the aren't the center of the universe.

My neighbor is a teacher and a single parent of a nine year old boy. He is allowed to play video games as much as he wants, only eats a small group of foods, and tells his mother what to do. She thinks this is completely normal and acceptable. She doesn't know how to say no, though, and she has no life other than this boy, and he knows it. The good thing about having twins is that they have had to share everything since before they were born. You have to be real careful, though, with the "whole universe revolves around my kids" kind of thing, because they will become total pricks that no one wants to be around.

I'm in the same boat as Dee Bee. My brother and I, even as adults, are the center of our mother's universe. It's always been that way. She and my father are no longer married, and I'm sure that's part of the reason why. I am her best friend, which is nice, but she won't travel without me or sign up for something like and art class without me with her. On the other hand, if I express an interest in something on my own, it becomes her interest too. If I do something as an adult that she doesn't approve of, her world falls off of its axis. Then, it becomes her own personal failure for raising a daughter that would...(insert silly thing here.)

She is extremely accomplished in her career on her own merit...I just wish she'd center her universe on herself.

I have a very good friend who spent the first 3 or 4 years of her now 6 year old son's life putting him at the center of her universe.
She completely lost herself, and her son was well on his way to being a completely uncontrollable, very selfish child who was used to getting anything he wanted. Then his baby sister was born, and for a while both children were at the center. My friend was so drained that her relationship with her husband was threatened because not only was there no "her" there wasn't even anything left to be "wife", just "mom". Then she forcibly made changes in her life, and now her children are still very important, as is her husband, but she fights to make time for herself and all of them are so much happier.

My husband and I are some of those people who DO make time for ourselves. Our children are our loves and our hearts and maybe even more than half of our lives, but not our ALL. We take time to be together, even overnights (our kids are 5 & 2.5, and very used to staying overnight with grandparents). We also make time to go out singly with our friends. However, we also do make a concerted effort to do things as a family (children's museums, parks, fun things for the kids) and we tell our kids we love them all the time. Our family is huge on hugs and kisses, and even after our kids get in trouble and receive a punishment, they are hugged and told that we love them even when we are mad. The result is two very happy, well adjusted children who tell EVERYONE they love them all the time. I think a family is a unit, and if each person isn't EQUALLY important, it teaches our children that some people are less worthy of respect than others. They KNOW that Mommy or Daddy gets time to themself sometimes, they know the meaning of the word "privacy", they know that Mom and Dad share all responsibilities EQUALLY (getting up at night, dealing with kids, changing their clothes, feeding them/making dinner, doing laundry, etc.) and they are not adversely affected.

Every person, every family is different. Do what works for you, of COURSE. But this is what works for us.

I have a very good friend who spent the first 3 or 4 years of her now 6 year old son's life putting him at the center of her universe.
She completely lost herself, and her son was well on his way to being a completely uncontrollable, very selfish child who was used to getting anything he wanted. Then his baby sister was born, and for a while both children were at the center. My friend was so drained that her relationship with her husband was threatened because not only was there no "her" there wasn't even anything left to be "wife", just "mom". Then she forcibly made changes in her life, and now her children are still very important, as is her husband, but she fights to make time for herself and all of them are so much happier.

My husband and I are some of those people who DO make time for ourselves. Our children are our loves and our hearts and maybe even more than half of our lives, but not our ALL. We take time to be together, even overnights (our kids are 5 & 2.5, and very used to staying overnight with grandparents). We also make time to go out singly with our friends. However, we also do make a concerted effort to do things as a family (children's museums, parks, fun things for the kids) and we tell our kids we love them all the time. Our family is huge on hugs and kisses, and even after our kids get in trouble and receive a punishment, they are hugged and told that we love them even when we are mad. The result is two very happy, well adjusted children who tell EVERYONE they love them all the time. I think a family is a unit, and if each person isn't EQUALLY important, it teaches our children that some people are less worthy of respect than others. They KNOW that Mommy or Daddy gets time to themself sometimes, they know the meaning of the word "privacy", they know that Mom and Dad share all responsibilities EQUALLY (getting up at night, dealing with kids, changing their clothes, feeding them/making dinner, doing laundry, etc.) and they are not adversely affected.

Every person, every family is different. Do what works for you, of COURSE. But this is what works for us.

Oh, this is a tough one. My brother and I talk about this all the time. I grew up in a family where the kids did not come first. We weren't neglected by any stretch but my parents by and large made decisions according to the things that would be best for them rather than would be best for us kids.

I wonder now if that is part of the reason I have a hard time making myself a priority--something that was an issue before I had kids (and for the life of me I can't imagine what my priorities were if not myself).

I don't want my kids to be "self-centred, self indulgent people who have an enormous sense of entitlement," but I do want them to feel that they matter--to me, certainly, but also to the larger world.

I had my three in five years so there wasn't time for any one of them to become the single center, and somehow (I was young and stupid so it certainly wasn't age or wisdom!) we got the balance right, or nearly right. The children were (are) totally aware of our love for them, but also aware that they were their own independent people who were responsible for themselves.

When we dealt with my husband going missing and then learning (much later) of his death it would have been easy for me to focus too much on the children but I quickly learned that this put far too much pressure on them. I tell them now and then that what I want most is for them to grow up happy and be able to make their own full lives. I never want them to feel that they can't leave me because they are the center to my universe.

When my children were younger, they were the center of our universe. They depended on us for everything - feeding, bathing, dressing, etc. Nature intended for children to be the center of our universe when they are little. As my children grow and become more independant they aren't my only focus anymore. It happened very gradually and very naturally. Time that was devoted to caring for their every need has been shifted. I'm going on more dates with my husband, having dinner with girlfriends, taking a class or two. I adore my children but I really enjoy the company of my husband. I'm protective of my time with him and my time alone now.

Excellent topic, as usual, Tertia. I was really struck a while back by a study I heard about showing that the amount of direct, face-to-face child-focused time that today's full-time working mothers spent with their children was the SAME as the amount of time the NON-working mothers of the 70's spent with their children - and many of us would be those kids, now grown up. I think the idea was that those kids (i.e. us), had WAY more freedom - they'd go "out to play" in the morning, show up again at lunch time, back out to play, etc. They rode their bikes to school. They had their OWN world. Obviously, that couldn't be true for babies and toddlers, but how many 10 year olds these days could be out of their mother's sight (or some other trusted adult's) for more than 10 minutes without mom starting to freak out?

And those kids - i.e. us - are now, mostly, responsible, happy, reasonably well-adjusted adults. In contrast, today's generation of kids are so used to getting spoon-fed every single thing, including an extremely elevated sense of self-esteem and entitlement, that they have no clue how to deal with anything on their own, and expect others to solve their problems for them. Their respect for parents and authority (and really, anyone else) is zero, because the kids are always in charge and their world is constantly being shaped to fit their own individual needs. Behavioral and mental health problems are sky-rocketing in children and adolescents (my perception as someone who works in the mental health field). What will happen when almost EVERYone is raised like this?? Scary.

Bottom line, in my opinion, is that as parents we need to use every single day as an opportunity to continue to help our children become the ADULTS we want them to be, by teaching them self-discipline, respect for others, etc. in a loving, nurturing, but not overly indulgent, fashion.

I think there's a big difference between revolving around them by supporting, nurturing and loving them, and revolving around them by succumbing to their every whim, giving them everything they ask for and bending over backwards to give them what they want.

Huge difference.

I would die for my children, and I want them to know that. I do not hand them things on a silver platter just because they exist, and I also want them to know that.

I think it's a never ending balancing act. But I do think self-perception plays into it a lot.

I see us as a family, not adults against kids and who's on top and who comes first. We work together to meet people's needs, including independence. It's constantly in flux. My husband and I for example set dates by buying a subscription to the symphony. But today my son is sick so we gave the tickets away. We'll go to a movie instead later.

What a great (and civilised!) discussion. I agree with the commentors who say that when the kids are babies / toddlers the world pretty much does revolve around them. I think they really need this time and I get annoyed when people push mothers of 3 month olds to go out by themselves, go to a day spa whatever when sometimes the mother - and child - aren't ready for that. It is a very difficult and draining time and you do pretty much lose yourself for awhile, but there are a lot of rewards and for me, while my kids are little and NEED me I will be there for them.

The problem is "letting go". My eldest is 6 and needs more independence. I do too much for her, because I always have. I'm working hard on letting her do more for herself and giving her a little bit of responsibility but I should have started earlier.

Anyway, you're a great mother and if this is what you and your kids need right now then I see no problem with that. But if (like me sometimes) you feel you need to parent perfectly and turn yourself inside out to make your kids happy or to parent like this book or that book says - well then you need to have a drink or three and relax. My mother never put pressure on herself to spend more time with us or do more activities. Her priorities were the washing, cleaning, cooking and watching daytime soaps! We saw her at meal times basically. I don't want to be like that, but maybe the pendulum has swung a little too far. And I'd love to know what made our generation change parenting so drastically? Was it that bad for us?

I have often felt the same way, but thought it was my bipolar disorder that made it rough on me. Not having that feeling of autonomy kicked my butt, especially in a depression phase. Like you, it seemed that there was never enough left over for me. I started working as a doula because it is everything I love - the support of a mother the day she meets her child. It is enough work outside of my home to make me feel like I am contributing to my family financially without taking too much time away from my children, and it gives me something *just for me* that my children and husband are not party to. Having that tiny piece of *heather* makes it a bit easier. While my children are still more or less the center of my universe, there is still a Mommy planet rotating around them, rather than just two brilliant son-stars and an empty solar system. I even remind myself sometimes that there is a Daddy planet and that when our orbits cross (when he's home!), I should make time for him, too.

I do think our generation tends to jump on things - we were just told our 16 month old needs speech therapy. For crying out loud! He says 8-10 words and he's perfectly capable of communicating his needs! I understand helping and encouraging, but I think we do tend to jump the gun. "He's behind! Push him! Get him help!" I think our desires to raise happy, healthy, smart children who feel loved and secure, and therefore confident, has led us to forget that every child's needs are different and so are their abilities. Mega was talking in full sentences before he was two. He took forever to walk. Skeeter walked before Mega and has been slower to talk. If Mega didn't try to get around on his own, I would have worried and sought help. If Skeeter didn't attempt to communicate his needs and want, I would do the same. When we noticed Mega's sensory issues, I researched until I had enough working knowledge to know it wasn't just me being over-protective and that something was going on with my little boy. Now we're all armed with coping mechanisms, and so is he. No biggie. Sometimes we just have to chill our little universe out a bit. :-)

I think the bottom line is that elusive balance - letting your children know you're there for them, that you love them unconditionally and are there to help, while still maintaining your sense of self, and, if you have a partner, a sense of "your self and your partner." What makes this so elusive is that, like our children, it is different for everyone. My job helps me tremendously because I love what I do it and it is not an every day job.

I often worry about the generation we are raising. But then, I worry about everything. :-D

In my field we refer to these kids as "millenials". Try googling it to find out more; as someone who is (a) trying to raise two young boys while maintaining a strong sense of self and (b)trying to hire people from this generation I love all the attention that's being paid to them.

The only thing I don't understand is that it seems most folks think that the generation only includes kids born up until l995 or so, but I see the parenting practices going as strong as ever.

I am so with Rachel. My college students are about 8-10 years younger than me. They have a self obsessed sense of entitlement that is hard for me to comprehend. They think everything should adapt to their whims. If they make a mistake, someone should fix it for them and it should have no consequences for them. They expect things to be given to them. They expect everyone to drop everything to help them. It makes me furious, and it makes them furious when I don't do what they want.

I remember a specific incident of an undergrad throwing a FIT at me when I told him "No. This policy that says you can't do X exists for a reason. You have proven yourself to be the reason because last time an exception was made for you, you messed it up. It is not unfair or unjust that we don't make yet ANOTHER exception for you."

So yeah, I think VERY STRONGLY that parents should not make thier children the center of the universe. Who likes an adult who thinks she/he is the center of the universe?

There is already a name for this generation who have not "wanted" anything. It is called the "Blackhawk Generation". Parents operate like the Blackhawk helicopter, blasting everything in the path of the child so they have no difficuties in life. I have worked with many who were born in the 1980's who have a very hard time realizing that their employer has expecatations of resposibility from them, (like showing up for work on time, in uniform and doing their job). I raised my kids to be self sufficient, to know how to clean their room, do laundry, use a vacuum cleaner, make a meal, show respect, and be polite. We had lots of love and laughter as well, and they are great young adults now.

I haven't read most of the other comments, but I think there's a balance to be struck. My mother (often) told me "you are not the center of the universe" in those exact words. I think that helped me grow up knowing it's not 'all about me.' now that I'm a mother (new mother, 6 month old) i haven't felt this struggle. perhaps I will sometime soon. I take care of the baby but it's not my needs v. his. we're sort of a--team? Same with my husband, just a cooperative unit. I do take care of him about, oh 23-7 (my husband gets a snippet of time in the evening while I shower or that sort of thing). but I'm not losing my sense of self, poppycock! I've still got my volunteer work (albeit slightly curtailed), writers' group (1x per month), some work (WAHM, part-time). Perhaps it's the difference between meeting your child's emotional and physical needs and indulging them? my mother also taught us to do chores (from a rather early age), be polite, sit quietly in church (this did not always work!! :)). my goal as a parent is really not to make my child happy in the catering-to-their-every-whim-sense; it is to raise him to be a joyful, effective, positive member of society. 'happiness' can come and go like the wind. He'll have to learn that he cannot always get everything he wants (which will make him unhappy, no doubt) but that life is very sweet anyhow, and he should work hard at his work and relationships. that's the idea, anyhow. the reality? we shall see.

As a fellow mother of a toddler, I wonder if we won't grow less child-centric the older our children get. I am very focused on my son right now, but then I have to be - he is at that age where he is just learning to play independently, learning how to manage disappointment without throwing a tantrum, etc. Keeping him safe and happy is a big job right now. I believe that in a couple of years he will be more independent and it will be a different story.

There are so many resources available to our kids, and I think it will be easy to overschedule them. My 7-year-old niece, for example, has one activity every single day after school - soccer, ballet class, etc., and birthday parties every weekend. I think it's just too much. Children need free time to think, explore, follow their instincts. I plan to keep that in mind as my son gets older, and make sure he has enough time to just be a kid.

I disagree. Children have always been the center of the universe. Women didn't use to work and their job was exclusively to raise their kids. How is that not being the center of the universe? Also, there are many other things that have changed compared to 40 years ago, such as the type of social activities and entertainment available to parents, traveling, etc. Today, there are so many fun things to do for adults that don't involve children, that when you have kids you feel the burden. While for our parents, or grandparents, staying with your kids all the time was the norm.

I think it is actually the opposite. We spend much LESS time with our kids. So obviously the little time we spend with them, they ARE the center of our universe. IMO, the problem is not that we pay too much attention to them, it is that we pay them too little attention. And yes, I think this is a problem and it too makes me wonder about the future generations that we are raising. I won't go into the SAHM vs. working mom debate, but IMO, a big part of the problem lies there (I work full time, btw, so I am not criticizing).

In response to Lucy, I do think that infertility made me more child-focused. After years and years struggling to have a child, I promised myself that when I finally succeeded, I would never take my child for granted. And I don't. I do think it will be harder to let go, once my son is ready, as he means more to me than anything in the world. I also think that my struggles to have him have made me more overprotective than I might otherwise be.

Thanks Belen - I agree with you 100%, this is what I expect would happen after an infertility problem and I expect it would be very difficult to try and do this any other way. It would be interesting to hear what Tertia thinks re this. Take care!

I think there is a certain age, when our children are young, that being the center of their parent's world is the best thing, the most reassuring thing, the most needed thing. And then they get older, and it's not the best thing any longer. Because children need (and want) to become part OF the world, too. And it's so important they learn that they are.

Can you imagine how hard it could be on a child to be the center of his parent's world as he gets older? The immense pressure that would entail? Not only that, but you (the parent) are your child's best and first role model as to how live a full life. At some point, your kids will need to see you as a person, as well as their mother. This can't happen if you continually subordinate your own rich and diverse personhood to one single role for them. It's healthy for them to see you wanting and desiring AND GETTING from them too, so that when they get older and become parents, they will know that they, too, can have expectations that should be met by others, and they will naturally want to fulfill other's expectations of them as well, because they've learned early on that it's how the world (and being A PART OF THE WORLD and not just its center) works best.

Just a quick response to Belen's comment. You mention that mothers in generations past were home "raising the kids." And that today's moms are spending "less" time with their children, presumably because a lot of them are working, so the kids are in daycare. I also work full-time outside the home and have no desire to get into that whole kettle of fish, but I think your basic premise is not exactly true. Yes, past generations of women were technically home, but they were BUSY - and NOT with playing face-to-face games with their kids, carting them around from one activity to the next, whatever - they were busy cleaning their homes (who has time for that anymore?), preparing time-consuming home-cooked meals (ditto), taking care of farm chores, whatever, and they engaged with their children mainly to keep them clean and fed and to teach them basic manners. Otherwise kids (i.e. non-babies or toddlers) were on their own. Nowadays, mothers feel that they are shirking their obligations if they are not actively engaged with their kids every waking moment that they are physically available to them. This, I think, is a problem.

Sounds like you are talking about Ayalet Waldman's "I Love My Husband More than My Kids" article which sparked a HUGE controversy - a stupid one. She says she wrote it as a tribute to the ambivalence of motherhood. She also happens to be married to the Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon who, in addition to being brilliant, is quite good looking.

Anyhow - I also adored my kids and did everything I could for them but not to the exclusion of teaching them to be good citizens, to be compassionate and considerate and to fend for themselves. I would love to have helped my learning disabled son more than I did but I did what I could (in time and money) and he did the rest and as an adult he has his own, self-created coping mechanisms.

That too, constitutes doing everything for your children.

My husband and I decided a long time ago that our family comes first (we defined "family" as husband, wife and kids). It's a huge balancing act, and the priority shifts every day. But, we make decisions based on what's best for our family unit. So on some days, my husband's job comes first. The family wouldn't survive without the income. On other days, my son comes first (say, he's sick and needs to stay home -- I take the day off work). Right now I'm pregnant with a whole host of pregnancy complications. On a lot of days, the baby and I come first because we could literally die if we don't monitor my pregnancy. Sometimes (when I'm not pregnant) my husband and I need time together, so our son stays with grandma. Some days he needs lots of attention, so we put off chores and play with him. Other days he needs to get over himself and behave well at the grocery store because we all need to eat.

My husband and I do have friends, and we are committed to our extended family. But those external relationships provide the network we need to put our family first (for instance, by having friends, we show our son how to be social with a peer group. We also find those relationships to be a benefit to us as people, and are therefore happier, more productive members of our family unit. And by respecting our own parents we teach our son about respecting elders... and so on).

And I agree with everyone who said that infants and toddlers need their parents to focus on them almost entirely. As they become more independent, the parents do too.

I haven't read all the comments, so I apologize if this has already been said. I don't worry about the children when they are the center of the parent's world--I worry about the parents. LIke you said Tertia, there's nothing left for yourself. And what happens when they grow up and don't WANT to be the center of your world? When they're creating their own lives and families,

I say this because I see this in my MIL. Her children were ALWAYS the center of her world, and still are. The oldest and youngest (35 and 29) are both autistic and still live at home with her. She had some serious problems when my husband married me, because she was "losing" her only child that will ever marry. She honestly would not know what to do with herself if she didn't have the two boys living at home with her. She made them the center of her world to the point of not knowing how to function without them.

I know not everyone would go to that extreme, but that's why I worry about the parents, not the children. Children need love and adoration and need to know how much they're loved and wanted. You can never give a child too much love. But where does that leave the parent when the children are no longer at home?

I, personally see it as a problem. I do believe previous generations have ignored children too much - we did not even technically acknowledge childhood until the Victorian Era - but today it seems we are raising a bunch of spoiled, self-indulgent kids who think the world is all about them. I am by no means one of those "children are to be seen and not heard" kind of people, but when did it become perfectly okay for children to yell back at their parents, have tantrums in the middle of the store, refuse to obey their parents, etc.? It's not that these things did not previously happen, but they certainly weren't okay. Now we over analyze such actions, discuss it being a child's "individuality" or "self expression" and go on our merry way, letting our child's behavior be seen as acceptable.

Interestingly, marriage and family studies have suggested this is something the 30's-40's ages are doing, particularly if they are on their first child in that age range. And as I've mentioned before, many marriages subsequently end in divorce, because they weren't married to each other, but to their children. Amazingly, people in the 18-28 range are sticking it out better with marriages than did the higher age groups; these individuals are also said to be re-entering an age of a less child-centered world. I have to wonder if that is not coincidental.

I don't like the concept of children just being a part of one's world, but I also don't like the concept of my children running my world. If my marriage isn't good, I am not setting a good example for my children, and I am not preparing myself for when they leave the nest - because ultimately, they do. I put my marriage first, not only because of this, but also because it is a wonderful example to my children of what a loving, equal couple should be. Children certainly aren't left out by this manner; it's just a healthier balance.

I really think kids need to grow up NOT thinking they are the center of the universe. However, these days it seems to happen a lot. My kids are very very important to me and I do probably make them the center in some ways. However, I do realize they will eventually grow up and get married and that will be the center of their life (not us as parents). I hope to be a role model for my kids, being a great mom as well as a person that has other interests and purposes in life. I have been in school since my youngest was about 1 1/2 so they have always seen me as a student, studying a lot. I sometimes have to make them wait for things but I hope them seeing me working hard for something will be a good example. I volunteer in their school weekly and SO many kids think that they should be the center of attention in the classroom. This is a bad situation for a teacher who has to spread her attention to 20+ kids. Students in school have gotten worse and worse, because they feel that they have the right to do whatever they want and and part of me believes this is due to being so spoiled and so coddled at home. Their parents feel they can do no wrong and they have never been told "no". We have very good friends and their kids totally run the house. They stay up as late as they want, determine what they will do and when they will do it, and the parents seem almost afraid of the kids. In this situation, the kids are the center and the parents just observers. I think it is a balance between making your kids feel loved and cherished and not making them feel like they are entitled to things just for being them. My kids were definately the center of my world for the years that they were not in school. However, as they started preschool and elementary school I really started to realize that my marriage needed to be more of a priority. When they leave I don't want to have a marriage in which I do not even know my husband. my kid are not allowed to disturb us when we are talking and they are not, nor have they ever, been allowed to sleep in our bed. That is our place. They know mom and dad sleep together and they sleep in their beds. Someday they will be married and have someone to sleep with every night!

I've thought about this too. I still remember some advice a friend gave me, just before I got married. We were talking about his parents, still blissfully in love after 40 years of marriage. He told me that growing up, it was always made clear to him and his siblings that their parents came first to each other, and then the children. And, instead of that having a negative impact on him, it actually made him feel good, more secure.

I try to remember this when I'm balancing my time as a wife, mother, friend, worker, etc. etc. That the best thing I can do for my daughter is to make her dad and my marriage a priority.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

My mother made her kids the center of her universe, but she didn't TREAT us like we were the center of anybody's universe, if that makes sense.

Sam and I place a high priority on caring for, educating and entertaining our daughter (my stepdaughter), although it may not always look like it to HER. We still take time for ourselves and have been known to respond to whines of boredom with "Good for you! It's good to be bored!"

I seem to be on a multi-commenting role but I did want to come back and say that I really don't believe there is ONE TRUE WAY to raise a child, either. What an awful world that would be.

I am who I am and my husband is who he is, and there will be advantages and disadvantages to that. I wouldn't want my child to be anyone different either, so. :)

What I do think is important is to give my child the tools to feel his strengths and address his weaknesses. And most of all, that he feel loved (which is not the same as getting his own way).

I believe that happiness and true contentment means serving others; looking outside of yourself. We are working hard to instill those values in our children. We live in a society that doesn't value those values though, so it will be hard! I guess it's more in the everyday things: "No, we aren't just going to give your old toys to the Salvation Army and call it a day. We're going to buy a new toy that you think a little girl your age might like to have!"

I think it's so important to create an awareness that other people have needs as well. When you make kids the center, I believe they grow up emotionally stunted.

Much easier said than done! I am once again proud of you for recognizing this!

Brilliant comment. I think one of the reasons so many relationships break up is because the children become the centre of their mother's world and by the time they are big enough to not be the relationship between the husband and wife has gone.

Note this is not a criticism of you, I have done the same thing but my marriage didn't last (more reasons that that I might add). I have SO much more to say on this but it will have to wait, work calls! Let me add that one day the kids are going to grow up and leave home (well I am hoping that my 21 year old will eventually leave home) then it's just you and him.

"I hope that we aren’t raising a generation of self-centred, self indulgent people who have an enormous sense of entitlement. Who believe that the world revolves around them. Because that is what their parents taught them was the truth." --- Sadly, that is exactly what is happening today!

"I think one of the reasons so many relationships break up is because the children become the centre of their mother's world and by the time they are big enough to not be the relationship between the husband and wife has gone."

This is true in my marriage, although in our case, my husband is the one who can't look beyond the kids. I've seen it with many, many other couples as well.

From a societal point of view, I see it both as a positive and negative - we may end up with a bunch of entitled, self-centered brats, but there are many more secure and health children who know how to ask for what they need and give, as well.

My thoughts on this (and I am sorry I haven't time to read the other comments yet, so I hope I am not repeating anything someone else said): Your babies are still small and they are your first.

With my first, every minute of every day was spent figuring things out. What is the best way to feed her, what kind of parent am I, how do I want our relationship to be and how do I make that happen, when do I give medicine, when do I call the doctor, do I leave her in the tub while I run to answer the phone [ ;-) ] that type of thing. I have my third now and alot of it is already wheels in motion. I don't love the third any less and I don't love my oldest any less because she is older but I have a better grip on everything now (hold on a minute, I'm sure I will lose it).

I guess what I am saying is that I don't think you are doing a thing wrong (not that it should matter if I did). I think if I were you I would feel exactly how you feel. But I bet as A&K get a little older and more self sufficient, you find yourself and Marko a little more and you start to live more parellel, intertwined lives with your kids (like those overlapping circles) as opposed to parasitic lives. (The very sweetest kind of parasite but you understand what I am saying, I hope).

Then again, perhaps I am just accustomed to revolving around my children!

Dear me... My children (almost 3 yrs / 14 months) already have to live with the fact that whenever they want something, they will have to wait until I've finished eating, talking or whatever else it may be that I'm doing. I am definitely not at their beck and call. I respect their needs, but I don't put them above my own when in fact they are not. (Of course I for instance fed my children at night when they cried, even though I would have preferred to sleep instead. I also drop everything instantly when one of the children hurts himself. Etc. But in those cases their needs actually _are_ more important than mine.)

That's the criterion I usually apply: Who suffers more in any given situation? The children when I deny them something, or myself when I "sacrifice" my time & energy?

I'm a cold-hearted cow, I know. ;-)

Over here in the U.S. experts use the phrase,"Helicopter Parents" to describe the type of parents who hover, do EVERYTHING for their kids and raise those entitled kidlets we all hate so much and are discussing here. And, those experts think is it a VERY BAD THING.

I don't think this discussion has anything to do with whether your spouse should come before the children. I don't have a husband. I am an only parent to almost 3 y.o. twins and experience the same issues that Tertia has presented. The question is/should be whether "YOU" as an individual are placing your children above "yourself" on the importance ladder of your life regardless of how many folks are raising this child.
According to many of you, a couple needs to come fist (at some point in the child's life)in order to create a secure feeling and balanced life experience. What if there is no couple? Does that negate the importance of the individual coming first? I don't think so.
I, too, struggle with the issue of how much is "too much" for my children in terms of order of priority in our family, but, can't neatly say "My relationship with my husband does/should come first". In fact, i don't think that is relevant here.
What i believe is relevant is how you raise your kids regardless of what you do with all that "free" time you have "left over" after parenting for your spouse or your self. I am the center of my universe if you remove my children from the equation.

I need to raise my children not to feel they are the center of their universe in order to be balanced kids, and, i can certainly do that without having a husband coming first as the reason or method.
Clearly, as infants/toddler/young children they have needs that come first, but, i think the best thing any parent can do for a child is to raise him/her to be independent. If a child has a good sense of self-esteem and believes in themself they will thrive. I think that Rachel said it best. Children need to experience the hard parts (disappointment, rejection, waiting, losing things, friends, privileges, etc.) of childhood along with the easy (mom and dad will fix it, mom and dad will do whatever I want/need, etc.) in order to be balanced adults.

I hate it when people put their kids first and spoil them. It makes me respect those parents less. I have a very good friend who makes me gag on occasion when she tells me how she has completely re-arranged her world to fit around her kids. I don't mean she is just being a good, caring, loving parent, i mean she is contorting herself so that little Johnny won't have to experience one moment of life that is not catering to his every whim.

Brainy Girl is correct. Mothers from previous generations were SAHM's, but, they spent their days SCRUBBING dirty diapers, floors and toilet by hand. They boiled dirty diapers in vats on top of their stoves all day! They had no modern conveniences like refrigerators! They had an ICE MAN who brought a block of ice to keep food chilled that had to ALL be made by hand and purchased on a daily basis! They scrubbed clothes by hand! They had no time to sit with their children and finger paint or watch Dora The Explorer for the 237th time! And, those children were not entitled and had a greater sense of respect for others, in my opinion.

I think that children are way too spoiled, in general, today and we are raising a generation of brats. I don't think that the parents who go beyond the pale with their kids in terms of making them first are doing anyone any type of service.

Count me in to your club of "cold hearted cows"!

Commenting again...I agree with Brainy girl. I had a lot of friends with SAHMs (me too) and our Mums had no time to play with us, take us on outings etc. You'd be lucky to go to the zoo once or twice a year and if you went to bother your mum you'd be shooed out the door. We played by ourselves and were outside most of the time. My mum used cloth nappies, ironed everything we wore (and even ironed sheets!) and dinner always had meat, 3 vegetables and a dessert afterwards! My friends were all the same. And if you went on a play date you entertained yourselves.

I wonder about why we have shifted our priorities. I think part of it is we've become more "academic" about parenting. There is so much information. So we read books, research on the Internet and suddenly find out there is supposedly a "right" way (or 34 right ways) to parent. We want to pass the exam so we throw our all into it.

Also, I think there is a lot of pressure on kids to get into good schools and find good jobs in a tough world. So we are being scared into thinking that if our kids don't do music, kinder gym, mosaic craft classes then they will be at a disadvantage.

And maybe some of it comes from the fact that we just don't value a clean house and gourmet meal as much as we used to. We take short cuts wherever we can. Maybe we look back at our parents and think that the clean house wasn't such a big deal, that we would have liked more time with our parents doing fun stuff. So we've gone the other way.

Oh, and the article you were referring to, I thought the woman was a tool. It sounded like she went out of her way to sound contraversial and just plain obnoxious looking for a bit of infamy. I didn't totally disagree with some of the essence of it, but when she started comparing her feelings if her husband died re if her kids died then it turned my stomach a bit. But a woman's entitled to her opinion!

I SO agree with Brainy Girl. I had a ton of free time when I was little and my mom stayed home - once my chores were done. It involved me doing pretty much whatever I wanted so long as it was in the confines of my neighborhood. I rode my bike, I read a book, I played in the backyard pool...etc., without my mother's immediate supervision. We rode over a mile away to the convenient store to get candy bars. We played outside without sunscreen. Now, as a nanny, I feel as though parents expect you to constantly be "in your face" with kids, and it's just not practical or good for the kids. Toddlers? Sure. But even they need to figure out the by themselves thing (in more restrictive limits, obviously). But most of the time? Kids just want to play and have fun and be kids.

I'm with those above who talk about the problem of helicopter parents. I hear now that in the US is not uncommon for parents to accompany a child TO A JOB INTERVIEW. For godsake. I was horrified when I saw parents accompanying their adult child to a "see the school" event for a GRADUATE PROGRAM. And I have seen huge changes, generationally, in terms of attitudes to work--very much a "what's in it for me" approach on the part of many young employees that makes it very hard for them to understand working as part of a team, or looking at how to meet a project deadline. It's more about protecting my vacation time, meeting MY needs, and very little flexibility. Also I am the child of a SAHM. In my childhood, toddlers too young to be unsupervised were put in playpens while Mom cleaned the house, cooked meals, did laundry, etc., and children old enough to reach the sink standing on a milk crate (say, 3) were helping with chores. It has taken me a long time to understand that today's moms don't have time to do these things is because they are interacting with their children every moment possible. The "good old days" weren't days when adults focused all their time on the needs of children. Is it better? I don't know. What I do know is that trying to smooth every single bump in the road for a child so there is never frustration or delay of gratification or disappointment results in children who are entitled, yes, but also feel curiously insecure--they have no idea what they can do on their own. And THAT is not good.

Some excellent comments here. My view is that nature seems to get it right. Look at the animal kingdom - mothers raise their animals to fend for themselves when adults. That's what we should be working towards (in good time and at the appropriate stages). Obviously, young children need to feel the centre of our universe up until a certain age - usually going to school gives them a bit more independence.

Re: the point about raising a generation of self-centred and self-indulgent people - I would say those people have always been around and they are like that for different reasons. I agree strongly with the principle of family first defined as wife, husband & children and the order of importance can vary according to specific needs at different times.

Tertia - this is something I think about too. One of my friends has 3 adult children - they are one of the most balenced, cohesive families I know. My friend said she grew up knowing that her parents' primary relationship was with each other, and that children came AFTER that. She and her husband made sure their kids knew this also. After dinner was always "parent time". The kids had to clear the table, get their Mum and Dad a cup of tea, then keep out of the way to for a while.
I do think it's important our kids know how to exist in a world which doesn't radiate from them as centre point. I also think kids feel secure from seeing that their parents have an ongoing and important relationship (one which is not all about them). It helps them know the relationship is solid, and it also gives them freedom to become independant adults themselves when the time comes. It's hard for kids to explore their own futures if they worry that their parents will have nothing in common and be miserable once they move out!
Just my thoughts, not everyone's I know.

The woman who wrote the article (and I believe it was in the NYTimes) was Ayelet Waldman whose husband is the yummy Michael Chabon. I admire her honesty.

I work at a university where helicopter parents are the bane of existence for some departments.

Formerly I worked at a private investment company where the owner and his wife totally lived around their two daughters, so much so that they are still supporting and enabling them, and they're in their late '20s. No problem about job security at that place as he'll be working until he sports a toe tag so those girls can keep partying on daddy's dime, as they so eloquently would put it.

But you were much older than 2 when you realized that Dad was #1 in the house. Probably when you were Kate and Adam's age, the family did revolve around the younges children. There is a difference between hovering over a 14-year-old and admitting that babies/toddlers are almost completely dependent upon us (and budgeting time accordingly). As they grow, you will feel there is more balance. I do not think it is a problem to be very involved in the lives of one's children.

My kids are and were the center of my world. I tried to keep it healthy though. My next door neighbor treated her two as mini Gods, work was to get money to buy them things, they were always right. Nothing was their fault. There was no need for tantrums because she was anticipating their wants before they knew they wanted. The daughter quit school, left the state with her boyfriend and came back a drug addict. The (underage) son sits in the garage drinking beer while his mom brings him food, runs his errands and cleans up after him. Hes doing better, been at the same job now for 3 whole months, a record. Drives the second new car his parents bought him, he crashed the first.

Um. Haven't had time to read the other comments yet.

As a young woman I worked as a nanny. Early on the mom of the two girls (3 & 5 y.o.) I cared for told me that she did not see her responsibility as being to raise them to be happy, but -- to borrow from Tertia (but this was the gist of it) to be kind, considerate, loving human beings who care for their fellow humans. Or really just (her words) "responsible members of society." And you know what? I agree with her that this is the appropriate goal.

Don't get me wrong. I hope my DS will be happy -- but not if he can only do so at the expense of those other goals. And truthfully I think that he is more likely to be happy -- to learn how to take the lumps life will (surely) deliver, yet find positives where they exist -- if I focus on the "responsible" part and let him find the "happy" part.

All of which is the "big picture" stuff, and while I do personally feel that this is the right focus for me in raising my DS (and down the road, if I am very lucky, his sibling), it is one thing to lay it out in the abstract and another to figure out, each day and each instance, what the appropriate thing for me, the mom, to do.

well, temper my comment by keeping in mind that i gave up a secure but ultimately unfulfilling career in advertising (working relatively relaxing 45 hours a week) to go back to graduate school in architecture full-time, and i can't remember the last time i worked less than 60 hours a week. and my daughter's father and i divorced about a year before this little educational escapade began....

whenever this gets hard, which is often, i remind myself that THE BEST THING I CAN GIVE MY DAUGHTER IS A GOOD EXAMPLE. the best example i can be is someone who works hard and loves much. so i bring her with me to school a lot so she can see me work, and we can work together. and i try to work after she goes to sleep, or the two days a week she's at her dad's. it is a struggle to integrate parenting with my academics right now, but i think i would be a crappy example if i didn't go for my dreams. all my words would be hollow if i sacrificed the ambitious part of myself for her immediate gratification. not to mention i do attempt to have a social life, as well. so balance is always a struggle.

but i find it helps me to remember, WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO BE? and honestly, i want her to be someone who works hard for the things she wants, who strives for the best life has to offer, who relishes learning and is intensely curious about the world. so i consider the time i spend working on myself a good example to her, as well as productive for myself. (what that doesn't take into account is leisure time, which is probably something i need to show her more of. she sees mommy working working working, not relaxing or taking care of herself, which is definitely a problem.)

In reality, 30 years from now I plan on expecting my kids to haul me and my "crazy old lady" buddies to adult play groups, doctor appointments, hair appointments and AA meetings. Fair is fair, I'll run my butt off for my kids now and they'll take care of me later. and when I ask them for bingo and lottery money they'll have no choice but to say "sure mom"

The best thing you can give your kids is a good marriage and happy home life. This can only be achieved if you out a certain amount of effort into your marriage which means time, affection, a couple of good shags occasionally and prioritizing.
I personally think Mom was quite often vacant as a parent and the reason why we are balanced and secure, is because of their precious marriage. She looked after herself and it made her a better mom. I do know it is difficult when critters are small though but its a slow process of shifting the focus.

Interesting. I was actually just thinking about this earlier this week when I read a comment that Seal made about his family with wife Heidi Klum:

"We are not a cookie cutter family. Often with relationships you forget what you were before you had kids, when you were the most important thing in each other's life. With us we never lose sight of romance and having fun. I have a very, very simple approach. Heidi is #1 at all times, then it's the kids -- as strange as that may sound -- then it's health and career.

I think that is the area where people get a little bit confused once the kids come in and the career takes over, but when we met, it was just her and I. Yes, there was a little one budding in her stomach, but it was just us two. And when the children are old and have their boyfriends and girlfriends, it will still be her and I."

(and then Heidi interjected):

"Yes, it will be you and I. And you will still be bald!"

Haven't read all the comments, but I just wanted to provide my perspective, b/c it's a bit different from most of what I see here. My parents *definitely* put their marriage first when I was a kid. They did not put my sister and I at the center of their universe, and we felt it. I always felt that the real family circle was my mom and my dad, and we were outside it.
This has informed my parenting greatly. My daughter is definitely the center of our world, and it has been nothing but great for our marriage. I don't look at our family as couple + child, but as a family unit made up of individuals. It's a subtle difference, but important to me.
My parents were not horrible parents, but it's an awful feeling as a kid to KNOW that you always come second to your mom, behind your dad. And that to your dad, you come a distant third behind mom and career. It makes you feel insecure and you always have to fight to have your needs be a priority, to have your voice heard.
In my conception of the family, no one member or relationship is prioritized above the others in absolute terms, but it is recognized and accepted that small children's needs are greater than those of adults, and cannot be deferred. I feel that the investment in time, energy and putting my child's needs first (while not, of course, ignoring my own or my hsuband's) will pay off in a secure, strongly rooted child who will feel safe in following her own path and confident in herself, and in her family's support.

Also, ditto to this comment:

"I think there's a big difference between revolving around them by supporting, nurturing and loving them, and revolving around them by succumbing to their every whim, giving them everything they ask for and bending over backwards to give them what they want.

Huge difference.

I would die for my children, and I want them to know that. I do not hand them things on a silver platter just because they exist, and I also want them to know that."

Putting children's needs first, while those needs are so great (and it is a short time, in the scheme of things) does NOT equal giving them whatever they want and teaching them a sense of entitlement. It couldn't be more different.

So, maybe the terms need to be clarified a bit. Raising spoiled, entitled kids is NOT the same as having their needs (NEEDS, not passing whims or desires) be a priority. Part of why child-rearing is so intensive in the first years is that it takes lots and lots of time and energy to teach (and model) things like self-care, thoughtfulness, persistence, kindness, etc. The time to teach these things is well-spent (and BETTER spent IMO than taking a week to reconnect w/ my spouse...I connect w/ him every day, and don't feel I need loads of time 'just the two of us' to have a strong marriage).

It's actually easy and not very time-consuming to give kids everything they want. I don't think this is putting kids at the center, it's buying them off. And while it is important to nurture one's marriage, I think we make a mistake in our culture by thinking you can't do that while spending time with your kids, that a marriage isn't healthy unless the husband and wife are having lots of "couple time" that excludes the kids.

I hope this makes sense. That's one model of a healthy marriage, I suppose, but it isn't everyone's.

Great comments! Being a mom of 2 sets of IVF twins (after 4 years of IF struggles), I can tell you that it does get better - the balance in your life. When mine were small (up to around 4 years of age) my world mostly revolved around them. It was just work, work, work & no (or very little) time for me or DH. But gradually the shift happens & suddenly one day you realise that you actually have spare time & energy left for doing things that you would like to do or going on a date with your DH. It's definitely related to the kids' age. The younger they are, the more dependent they'll be on your time & inputs. As they mature and grow more independent, the less you'll have to "hover" around them to attend to all their needs. I don't love mine any less now that they're 10 & 6 years old, but I actually "have a life" again after 8 years of "hard labour". And it's great! They're still very important members of our family unit, but not the only ones or the only ones with needs. And our marriage is better & stronger now than before we had any (or started trying for) kids. Don't worry Tertia. You're doing a great job with raising yours & I'm sure the balance will correct itself almost automatically as they grow older.

Isn't the time you blog and read emails your personal time? It wouldn't be counted as kid time or husband time....would it?

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