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Should parents be slaves to their children?

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#1 KatakaGeoGirl

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:05 PM

I was watching an episode of Wife Swap and found it intriguing that the parent in question thought it was selfish of a Mum to have their own interests and hobbies. That if you had kids it was your choice and therefore you should run your life entirely for them. The Mum did everything for the kids, and didn't do anything for herself at all for that reason; and felt it extremely selfish of the other Mum to do such activities.

I had one of those 'gee are there parents around that actually do think I'm selfish' moments. As I do outside sporting activities for my own benefit only (ie health, activity and really the sanity). For me it makes for a balanced family. But having watched that episode I'm now more aware that not everyone thinks that way! So I was at one of my girls activities today and whilst my girls only do 2 activities a week, there was a lot of talk between the other mums there how 'many' activities and I could see clearly they thought it was only right they give their kids all the opportunities they can (ie something almost every day) and I can see they do give up their own lives entirely for their kids. I confess I do not - and perhaps that does make me selfish.

So I wondered what you think. Do you think it is selfish to have your own set of activities outside of the home? Or if you have kids life should be entirely and wholly about them and their lives.

ETA I don't 'really' give a crap what others think... ie I'm not affected by it. It was more an observation and wondered if a lot of people do think that of mums who do have a life away from the family in one activity or another.

Edited by Katakacpk, 28 February 2013 - 07:08 PM.

#2 Guest_LeChatNinjah_*

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:08 PM

I say no to slavery.

I am there for them, I care for them, I've "sacrificed" a hell of a lot of "me stuff" but I think sacrificing ALL "me stuff" is not conducive to mental well-being.

#3 KatakaGeoGirl

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:12 PM

QUOTE (stopwhiningatme @ 28/02/2013, 08:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
They have to pick contestants with extreme views to make it watchable.

I prefer to treat my kids as slaves.

Oh yeah completely understand that. But I guess it also highlighted that people do think that way. And then I thought of a few instances with the people around me where this is probably true but I had never stopped to think about it before.

#4 Mitis angelam

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:12 PM

I'll bite, although I suspect a train wreck ahead.

I think we need to be clear what we mean when we talk about "selfish."  Is it selfish of me to be sitting here, at home alone, reading EB and other stuff, while DH takes DD to choir practice with him?  On one level, yes, because I could have done things in such a way as to make his life easier.  On another level, if I never have time to relax, to do things I enjoy, to nurture myself as a whole person, sooner or later I'm going to be a tired, worn out, crappy wife and mother.  

So I think it's about balance.  Self care is not selfish.  Being a whole person in your own right is not selfish.  Pursuing your own interests to others' significant detriment might be - but that's something to be worked out within the dynamics of your own family; I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all phenomenon.

And, you know, I might add.... there are two parents in most homes.  Surely what's good for the goose ought to be good for the gander?  Or is this question of selfishness never applicable to fathers?

#5 *LucyE*

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:26 PM

So I wondered what you think. Do you think it is selfish to have your own set of activities outside of the home? Or if you have kids life should be entirely and wholly about them and their lives.

No, I don't think it's selfish to nurture yourself to be a complete and balanced person.

I think anyone who gives over so much of themselves for someone else is highly dependent.

I have made sacrifices for my family - career, body, sleep - but I am still my own autonomous person. I'm not a robot or slave at anyone's beck and call. I choose to do certain things that makes all of our lives easier but I don't just do it for them. I realize that one day my children will grow into independent adults and won't want mum hanging around. I hope to have more in my life than just being a mum slave.

#6 Jane Jetson

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:28 PM

No, I don't think it's selfish to continue to have your own life post-children, any more than the OP's acquaintances probably think it's selfish that their male partners still have "me" time. Because I suspect that, as always, accusations of selfishness are only ever going to be levelled at the female parent.

I have not only retained my own interests but work full-time, so I'm pretty used to being called selfish. Meh.

#7 Maple Leaf

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:33 PM

I like to lead by example. I am glad that my girls see me experiencing the world outside of this house and outside of them.

I am still ME. There is a happy medium with being a parent.

#8 Jane Jetson

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:35 PM

QUOTE (stopwhiningatme @ 28/02/2013, 08:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But Jane, wot of the chilluns!!  The chilluns!!

Hmm, come to think of it, I have noticed some short people living in the house...

#9 The 8th Plum

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:36 PM

I don't see it as selfish to have your own interests. If anything, I think it is good for children to see that it's not all about them and that mum & dad do stuff too. However, I'm also one of those parents who is likely to set a limit of a couple of activities per week per child so obviously I would also be considered selfish by the wifeswap mum.

I think she sounds crackers.

#10 Procrastinator5000

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:38 PM

I think as long as kids feel they get love and attention most of the time then they have more respect for a parent who's got hobbies outside of child-rearing.

#11 FeralBee

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:40 PM

Would you want your daughters to sacrifice everything that they are for their own children? By having your own interests, taking time for your own things, you are showing them that a woman can be a mother AND a person at the same time - just like a man can be a father and a person. They learn from the example we teach.

This idea that it is selfish to be yourself is so strange to me. Yes, parenting involves a lot of sacrifices - time, energy, sleep, sanity (luckily I have little of that to begin with), some of your interests, perhaps even some of the things you love - of course your priorities and the way you spend your time will change.

But to sacrifice your whole self? To what end? What does it teach, how does it truly benefit your children?

#12 BadCat

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:40 PM

Answer A

When I produced children it was my firm intention to check my personhood at the door and pick up my yoke of motherhood slavery.  It's a busy but fulfilling life.  I get up at 4am to make sure their bedrooms are tidy before they wake so they don't tread on anything untoward as they wander sleepily from their beds.  They find an assortment of breakfast on the table and should none of the options be to their taste I will make something else.  I dress them and clean their teeth then drive them to school where I have arranged for them to be in adjacent classrooms so that I can follow everything that they should be learning.  Then I do all their homework while they throw stones at me for their own enjoyment before preparing dinner as per their individual requests.  After dinner I give them a sponge bath so they needn't tax themselves by standing a shower and they won't miss their favourite tv shows.  Once they go to bed I self flagellate to remind me that I could have done better and then write a diary page about how I intend to improve my performance tomorrow.

Answer B

**** that for a game of soldiers.

Bonus points to whoever can spot the genuine answer.

#13 sa5ha

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:40 PM

I don't think it matters what you're talking about - parenthood, friendships, romantic relationships - you need to be your own person with interests and self love in order to be your best in a relationship with anyone else.

I hope when my partner and I have children that they become part of our lives but not our whole lives.

#14 ComradeBob

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

Manatee's answer B summed it up quite nicely for me.

#15 adl

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:44 PM


Errrr .... NO

#16 Rainbow Lemur

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:47 PM

You say "selfish" like it's a bad thing.

#17 Guest_LeChatNinjah_*

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:49 PM

That's the thing, though, Amoral Lemur, having a few interests outside of kids isn't selfish at all!

#18 sāta kōrsa

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:56 PM

QUOTE (Katakacpk @ 28/02/2013, 08:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Do you think it is selfish to have your own set of activities outside of the home?

I'll save you some time.  No one thinks that way.

#19 Musk Sticks

Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:02 PM

My mother was/is the type to say that a mother should sacrifice everything so that she can always be there for her children.

She is now struggling living in an empty nest.

Her whole identity was her children and now that they have grown up and left home, she is finding it very difficult to fill that void.

My mother was a very good mother to us while growing up, but I really think she would have been happier if she had set aside time for herself.

#20 Lees75

Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:29 PM

I don't think it's selfish to have outside interests, but I don't think it is possible for everyone at all stages of their life. Currently my life as a full time working single mum is unbalanced, and even though I love it, it's not sustainable long term. But it is what it is for the next few years until my kids are old enough to leave on their own for an hour or so.

#21 KatakaGeoGirl

Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:55 PM

QUOTE (amoral lemur @ 28/02/2013, 08:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You say "selfish" like it's a bad thing.

No no I didn't say it was selfish, the lady on Wife Swap did - so I was asking as she would use the word selfish. Doesn't mean I believe it at all. I was just surprised there were people that think that, and wondered if it was a common thought.

#22 jojonbeanie

Posted 01 March 2013 - 09:59 AM

Ignoring the silly use of the word 'slave', I'm not sure why it has to be one or the other. It's quite possible to be an involved and nurturing parent and still enjoy your own hobbies and interests without any detriment to the lives of your children.

#23 GoBack2Bed

Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:27 AM

Income from the premise of should PEOPLE be slaves full stop. And my answer is a resounding no. I'm not a slave for my boss, I'm not a slave for my husband and I'm not a slave for my children.

In regards to parenting, I think our job is to raise little people. That means people who are independent, resilient and happy. And I don't think a child that grows up with mum doing everything for them is any of those things.

I also think that me having my own hobbies and interests is essential. It's my sanity. I also think that when kids see their parents engaged in activities it encourages them to get into activities too (not necessarily the same ones).

All I can say is that if anyone called me selfish they better be prepared for the fury coming their way as I am most definitely not selfish and don't take anywhere near as much time for myself as I would like. I make endless sacrifices so taking some me time is well earned.

I also love the irony that some people think you are selfish if you take me time but would probably also be the same people who judged you for not losing baby weight or whatever other ridiculous standard they expect you to adhere too.

And men choose to have babies too. Why is it ok for them to have hobbies? Oh riiiiight penis I forgot.

#24 steppy

Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:34 AM

QUOTE (Musk Sticks @ 28/02/2013, 09:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My mother was/is the type to say that a mother should sacrifice everything so that she can always be there for her children.

She is now struggling living in an empty nest.

Her whole identity was her children and now that they have grown up and left home, she is finding it very difficult to fill that void.

My mother was a very good mother to us while growing up, but I really think she would have been happier if she had set aside time for herself.

That's exactly why it's such a bad idea to devote everything to one's children. At least in your mother's case she has let you go though. There seems to be a growing tendency to keep children VERY dependent and have them live at home until they are in their thirties. I think it does children a disservice to be unable to handle simple things like doctors appointments or planning a route using public transport, not to mention being unable to clean or cook for themselves. My mother had to mother her own family from an early age so she spared her own children any housework because she had hated it so much. It is the one thing she did that I really think was a mistake that impacted negatively on all of us kids. She is very independent otherwise, but I wish she had made housework a routine thing for us. It's harder when you think of housework as an unimportant and onerous chore than if you think of it as just as fact of life.

#25 EsmeLennox

Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:43 AM

Short answer: no.

Long answer: I think it is absolutely unhealthy to the kind of mother you describe. Not only for the mother but also the children. Thinking long term, your children will eventually live their own lives. Where does that then leave the mother? Ridiculous. Also I think we have enough trouble raising children in Australia (and other western countries no doubt) to realise that they are not in fact entitled to everything in life being handed to them on a silver platter. So I make my kids work around the house, I say no to them and I am raising them to realise that parents are people too.

I want my boys to see me out in the world doing things.

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