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Dear mothers, you do not need to make sacrifices for your child. How you want to live is your choice, but do not put the burden of sacrifice on your child.
Did you just read that, frown and curse me? What kind of a bitchy mom is that? A mother – the epitome of sacrifice and here is one who defies that. Do you wonder if I am that evil stepmom?
I read a quote by an actress and mom who I am an ardent admirer of. She said “The good thing is that I have never made any sacrifices for my children. Because when you put ‘sacrifice’ as an element, you tend to let the child feel the pressure of ‘I did this for you.'” Kudos to this woman, for she said what every parent should.
I believe the decision taken to have a child is because WE desire to be a parent. By bringing a child into this world, we are not doing the child a favor, but we are fulfilling our wish to become Mom and Dad. Yes, I know all about pregnancy, labor, the long sleep deprived nights, feeding struggles and not having a life for ourselves once a child is born. I have gone through it; in fact with a one year old I think it’s still a long way to go. But wasn’t this because we decided that we wanted an offspring?
One such gloomy afternoon, a newbie Mommy Me was complaining to her hubby, “How precious this gift of sleep is, I know it now. Not a wink have I slept the whole night, my body aches and the little one looks at me with innocent eyes – ‘pick me up one more time, I am hungry!'”
“And I think – Once you grow up, you would probably not even need me. Give me some space Mumma I need privacy you may say. And I will then think – you are blissfully unaware of how many sleepless nights I have spent when you were a baby, when you grew up and fell sick, tending to you. I forgot I had a life of my own, I gave up the things I used to love indulging in – those late night movies at PVR, leisurely dinners, the afternoon siesta, my best friends – books, the back to back episodes of How I Met Your Mother and 24, and most of all my sleep. But how would you know the sacrifices I made for you.”
When I said that, my husband stopped me and said – “But she may just say ‘Mumma did I ask you to bring me into this world? NO.’ We wanted to experience the joys of parenthood and that’s why we took the plunge. It came without the statutory warnings and it’s been a roller coaster. The good and bad days co exist but never ever do we want our child to think that we made sacrifices for her. Thinking of it I feel it’s important we change our mindset and do away with the thinking that we are sacrificing so much for our kids and they need to be indebted to us, always be in awe of us. Are we extracting our pound of flesh here from our own kids?”
Should I then say, “I left my job and decided to be a Stay-at-home-Mom just because I did not want to leave you with a Nanny or at Day care where they might not treat you with the same care I do. That’s why I sacrificed my career.”?
This is what my mom had said – “I decided to continue working as I had no option, financial needs required me to continue with my job, but I decided to put my child – my family first. I gave up my promotion, my aspirations and so much more so that I could get back home in time to be with my child. I sacrificed my dreams for my child.
Raising you into a confident, well educated young woman has not been an easy feat. Waking up in the wee hours, cooking the best of food for you, taking you to school, helping you with your studies, revising with you, then taking to your basket ball and chess classes, the years just passed by, I never lived for myself. My hobbies, giving time to my friends, waking up late, lazing around, I did none of it because I was toiling for you, I sacrificed my youth and my life for you.
When your father passed away in an accident, everyone said, ‘You are so young, you must consider remarriage. There is a whole life ahead of you’. But I refused, because I did not want a step father for you, I was not sure he could love you like your own father. I sacrificed companionship for you.”
When a Mom decides to work or not to work, it’s a matter of personal choice. So is deciding what importance one wants to attach to professional growth and family. A woman who decides to work (with or without financial compulsions) chooses for herself. If she is not comfortable leaving the baby in daycare, its her wish. Not every child who grows up without his mother is ill treated, beaten and abused. Things are changing these days and with more and more working moms, day care facilities have transformed, Its a change for the better.
A mother who makes it her goal to see her child grow and wants to extend her whole-hearted support to him is also choosing here. If she did not support him or rather decided to pursue her own interests, would that imply he would be any less successful?
A decision to remarry no doubt would be greatly influenced by kids, but there again its a choice made here. One cannot use the bait of sacrifice here.
Maybe its not always choice, sometimes it maybe due to circumstances beyond our control, nevertheless we cannot place the child at the altar for what was once not in our hands.
We start putting pressure on our kids, knowingly or unknowingly. As they grow up and want their space, we cringe. “Now you want your friends, your GF/BF, your spouse, you have forgotten what your parents did for you!” And the child has no option but to keep quiet as he feels that indebtedness and he may have to go against his wishes at times, at the risk of shaking the balance of relationships, letting his own dreams take a backseat just because he does not want to upset them.
This is definitely not the reason. And by feeding them this reason time and again we are only causing damage and creating an unseen distance between them and us. Becoming a parent is no doubt a life changing event and it alters the very course of life, but that does not mean we kill our dreams, put a full stop to our aspirations as an individual and live only for our kids.
If a mom decides to leave her baby in a daycare because she has career aspirations or a couple decides to go for a movie and spend sometime by themselves by leaving the kid at their parents place for a night, or a parent wants to nurture his dreams along with those of his child, take the plunge. Do not use the term ‘sacrifice’ so liberally that by the time you realize the damage its caused, its probably too late to mend it.
So yes, I love my daughter to bits, but I also care for and love myself (nay I am not a narcissist!), and while I would love to be a part and live every dream of hers, I would also want to fulfill mine and by doing this I would teach her the important lesson of learning to love and value oneself. Only a happy and content parent can raise a happy and confident child.
So yes my dear mommy, you are free to choose. You do not need to make sacrifices for your child.
Do make a choice, but not a sacrifice.
Published here previously.
Image source: mom and baby by Shutterstock.
An avid reader, a shopaholic, head over heels in love with my little bundle of
I understand your point of view on this matter, and it is valid to an extent. However I request you to look at sacrifice from other perspectives too. I agree this can be a very difficult topic in relationships- leading to guilt, pain, strain and distance cropping up in them. But we become more acutely aware of one fact, when we ourselves get accustomed to being parents -most often, our choices as devoted/responsible parents are guided by a sense of what seems “right” to us at the moment. This goes for making sacrifices too. Many times these sacrifices are decisions of equal amounts of head and heart. Almost every mother makes sacrifices and many fathers do too. As parents(or in any other loving relationship), while making sacrifices we may feel pinched momentarily- but as in all loving relationships, a key ingredient has to be a joy in “giving”(and sometimes -foregoing your own desires too), for the common good of the relationship. If we give or forego some thing with a willing joyful heart, then neither will we burden others with the weight of our sacrifices nor will we feel a great loss for making them. However, it is equally important for those who receive the fruits of someone’s sacrifice, to be considerate enough to accept and acknowledge the hardships of the sacrifice someone has made for them and the advantages/privileges benefitted as an outcome. This way “giving and gratitude” are “happy and fair” exchanges and its a “win-win” for both the giver and receiver of timely sacrifices.
Thanks for writing in and this is a fair point. This is not to imply that I have a heavy heart or I do not experience the joy of giving but to be honest (only future will tell) I do not want to ever face a moment where I think “I compromised/ sacrificed for her and now she forgot it and has moved on. I want to give her the wings to fly and watch with delight as she soars high in the sky.
We have a beautiful term in our regional languages for this – “Dharma”. This does not translate to either duty or sacrifice. The fact that one word describes the course of our choices requires us to understand this term very well. So, if you bring a child into this world, it is your Dharma to take care of its well being. Similarly, if we are brought into this world by our parents, it is our dharma to take care of them. So, once we understand what Dharma means in our life, all our choices automatically fall in place beautifully, without having to even make a choice and feel happy / sad about it!
I get your point Sharada but to digress what I meant and probably you missed- It is all about keeping an open mind and letting my child fly when she is ready without any inhabitations, this will truly happen when I look at her as an individual in her own right and not count what I do as a parent asd making any kind of sacrifice. This by no means implies I would deflect from my duty as a child to my parents or as a parent to my daughter, I understand my dharma and would wholeheartedly fulfil my duty there is no doubt about it, but keeping my mind open is what I need as I transcend from one stage to another.
This is a revealing piece of insight. Having a deep fascination of concepts and philosophies and their bases, I am constantly trying to get better understanding of them through various perspectives. I do like concept of the term ‘dharma’ (in my little understanding of it) and thanks to your clarification in relation to parenting, I have understood it more clearly. It seems a fair and complete thought and action process.
Finally a young mother who is not hooked on the all destructive “Madona Syndroma” this nomenclature was given my grandmother and not me, she was the one who taught me, love your daughters, but love and respect yourself equally your daughters will turn out fine. Touch wood I have two beautiful, intelligent, quirky firebrands daughters
A splendid piece of advice from your grandmom! Thanks for sharing your views.
She gave me a better one which I unfortunately did not follow, “don’t get married no man is worth it, Marriage is only required to legitimize babies.” 🙂 she was a woman beyond her times.
Akshata well written. The actual problem is with the terms that we use in parenting- Sacrifice and Compromise. If we remove these words while parenting everything is a conscious decision we make that was the best choice available to us at that given time. I am a parenting consultant and I get to hear these two words many times from clients. The burden of these words become a pressure on the children to pay back.
Thanks for sharing your views, I really feel the outdated approach needs to be changed
Totally agree with these i think much similar!! And this is how it shd be.. Are we producing slaves or our children!?!?!?
Good write up
Thanks Safia- as yiu rightly put it , it would be equating them to slaves otherwise
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