Why Being a Selfish Mom Really Helps Your Kids
From the moment your seven-pound, something-ounce baby lands in your arms something instinctually possessive is born. “This being is helpless and small; only I can protect it.” And the rest is history.
When I write this blog about being a selfish mom I’m not really thinking of moms with young children (though some gym time, a hobby and occasional massage never hurt anyone). Our instincts as new parents are correct; with that born infant is a born season of selfless sacrifice and an undoing of our own needs. But, more and more I am connected with mothers of 8, 12, 17, 34-year-old children who never reclaimed themselves. Along the way their sense of self and identity was lovingly sacrificed and laid to rest in an unhealthful, permanent manner.
Of course, I use the word “selfish” with lightness. Literal selfish parents never amount to any good (sadly there are many and should not be reading this!). I am speaking of that healthy dose of selfishness that creates balance, purpose and fulfillment in our lives. As a therapist to many moms of all ages and a daughter and friend to my own mom, I have some thoughts about selfish motherhood.
- Being selfish trains our children that we are separate from them. We have separate and individual needs and this teaches them to think about others they love.
- Being selfish allows satisfaction and fulfillment in our lives. Children have great instincts and are very intuitive. They’ll learn to value being in relationships with others who are self-determined and purposeful. They’ll find healthier people to date and marry.
- Being selfish makes us happier with our lives in general. We are nicer to people, enjoy our marriages, our children and our friendships more. Our children will remember us mothers as “nice mothers”.
- Being selfish as parents promotes healthier relationships with our children when they become adults. Our adult children will have things in common with us, will want to talk, relate and do things with us. If you want to become a true friend to your adult child, become more selfish.
- Being selfish encourages us to require things from our spouse (not ask for a “favor” to help clean up). We get to teach our children effective communication on how to get their needs met from peers, superiors and partners.
- Being selfish helps our children reach developmental milestones. As they begin to explore the world further and further away from us, it’s inevitable that they will check-in and make sure we approve. When children sense we approve of them leaving and are our own separate person, they’ll feel safe to keep growing up.
- Being selfish is wildly attractive to our spouse. Spouses love knowing we will speak up, fight for wants and needs, and be an active member in the home. Our sons and daughters will know what to look for to prepare for their own healthy marriage.
If you are a mom to young children, what are you doing to prepare for a new season of selfishness?
If you are a mom to older children or teens, have you let them know and put into place your new selfish needs?
If you are a mom to adult children, what are you doing or need to do to become your children’s friend?
My amazing friend, Wendy – a competitive Crossfitter and fantastic mother to a 12 and 14-year old.