Opinion Column

Parents need to be a little more selfish

By Bianca Bujan

Nothing wrong with parents having a little "us" time away from their kids.
FOTOLIA

Nothing wrong with parents having a little "us" time away from their kids. FOTOLIA

Parents are often their own worst critics. Sometimes they accuse themselves of acting selfishly when they make choices that aren’t solely beneficial to their children. It’s as though doing something for themselves equates to neglecting their kids.

They judge themselves and cut each other down for deciding to do things that fall outside of the parameters of parenting. the guilt, self-doubt, and finger-pointing isn’t doing anyone any good.

When my children were one and four, my husband and I went on a week-long Caribbean cruise and left our children with my parents. While some of our friends congratulated us for deciding to travel without our kids, others couldn’t believe that we would opt for an adults-only getaway.

They dropped their jaws and widened their eyes as though they were imagining our children hopelessly abandoned as we selfishly jetted off to our tropical destination. They asked how we would even enjoy ourselves without our babies in tow?

I felt tinges of guilt as I kissed my kids goodbye, wondering if I was being selfish for not bringing them along with us. But we had a fabulous time — and so did our kids.

When I was working in a full-time corporate job, I felt like I was being a selfish parent for choosing to continue with my career after the arrival of my firstborn. Parents would comment on how they couldn’t imagine missing out on all the important milestones, and couldn’t bear to be apart from their child for so many consecutive hours.

I’ve always loved working, and feel as though having my own interests is actually beneficial to my relationship with my children — if I’m happy with my life, then that happiness spreads to them.

Hyper-parenting is becoming the norm in today’s society. Parents are hovering over their children, devoting themselves entirely to the safety and security of their little ones, and neglecting their own personal needs. Perhaps it’s time to take a few steps back and supervise a little less.

Parenting can be joyful and rewarding, but it can also be all-consuming and exhausting. If parents don’t take time out for themselves, there’s a risk of burnout, depression, and self-neglect. Taking a moment to reset will result in happier parents, which is ultimately better for their kids.

Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, and marketing consultant. She tweets at @bitsofbee and blogs at bitsofbee.com. 

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