Parents sacrifice things for their children all the time; sleep, money and time are the obvious things they relinquish. Parenting is a sacrificial job, no doubt about it.
But sometimes parents must learn to sacrifice above and beyond and in ways that they had not anticipated. These five sacrifices are ones that all parents should make, at one time or another as they raise their children.
Sacrificing convenience means that parents are often called upon to do things for their kids which are very inconvenient. Did you ever make a late-night run to the drug store to get medicine for your child? How about helping your child with homework when all you really want to do is take a bath and relax with a book? Or making a last-minute shopping trip because your child needs a birthday present for their friend’s party?
Let’s be honest, your kids’ needs and wants are often very inconvenient, and when you choose to put your own needs and wants aside to attend to theirs, you are sacrificing your convenience.
Sacrificing your convenience is tiring and frustrating, but it is one of the ways you can show unconditional love to your child. They may not appreciate it now, but hopefully one day they will understand. Meanwhile, your reward is knowing that you’ve done your best to love and care for your child.
Sacrificing perfection means that a parent does not push their child to perform up to the parent’s standards. If your child is trying their hardest to not strike out or doing their best at cleaning their room and the results of their efforts are not good enough for you, then it might be time to re-examine your standards.
Perfection is not the standard that will motivate your child to do their best. Your support and loving challenges will help them try their hardest. The “perfect” of a child will never live up to the “perfect” of Mom or Dad. Don’t put that on your children. It will only cause them to resent you, rebel against you and may push them towards anxiety.
Sacrificing comfort can come in many forms. It may look like sleeping in your child’s room on an air mattress when they are sick. Or baking in the hot sun as you watch your child play little league. It can also mean having that hard conversation with your teen about an issue that you would rather just ignore. If you are never uncomfortable in your parenting, then I wonder if you are really focusing on what is best for your kids?
Sacrificing careers or dreams is not something that all parents have to do. But when there is choice between you following a career or dream that will hurt your family or choosing another path that puts your family’s needs first, then your career or dream is the sacrifice to make.
That may mean choosing a job that pays less but keeps you from having to travel three weeks a month. Or putting off the dream of finishing your degree until the kids are a little more self-reliant.
Here’s the deal: dreams do not have an expiration date. I’ve known many parents that pursue dreams when their kids are older or even gone, myself included. The thing you must ask yourself is this: is pursuing this dream or career going to pull me away from being the parent that my children need? Will it cause me to miss out on the important things that are happening in their lives?
Sacrificing leisure means giving up those times when you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, to relax. Did you want to spend a lazy Saturday around the house? Nice thought, but your kids have soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball or softball games that you have to take them to. You thought you’d sit on the couch and watch a good movie, but your kids are bored and you know that it might be a good opportunity to teach them a new game.
It’s important for parents to have breaks and downtime, absolutely. But there are times when you must sacrifice your leisure to meet your child’s needs. Leisure is another commodity that does not have an expiration date. You will have plenty of it when the kids are gone from the nest.
Perhaps you have sacrificed all five of these for your children, but you’ve not always had a good attitude about it. That kind of parenting becomes martyr parenting. A parent with a martyr complex has an exaggerated sense of obligation to suffer and sacrifice for their children, expecting sympathy or admiration in return. That type of “sacrificing” is manipulative and your children will see it as such, as opposed to sacrifices made out of unconditional love and support.
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