As in sports, family life is a team effort. Teammates help and support each other. When there’s a household job that needs to get done, do your children pitch in and help or do they do so only after being asked? Do they take it for granted that the chores are going to be done without them? When you ask your children to participate in the household, you are teaching them to be part of a team. Yet many Moms hesitate to ask their kids to lend a helping hand. Why?
For many Moms, growing up meant learning not to ask for help. As described in my book, Soul Selfish — The Awakening of a “Good Girl,” being a “Good Girl” meant doing well, without raising a fuss or making demands, especially for attention and approval. From this mindset, sometimes putting yourself first feels selfish. There are two levels of selfishness: ego selfishness where you do what you want without regard for the impact of your actions on others, and soul selfishness, when you love yourself enough to also give time and attention to yourself — what you need to be in balance and at your best.
Parents are their children’s first teachers.
Think about the type of people you want your children to be when they grow up. Do you want to raise takers, the type who take for granted the time, energy and effort other people put into relationships? Do you want to raise givers, who expend so much of their own energy caring for others that they have nothing left for themselves? Neither option is healthy or appealing. Instead, you want to raise children who are balanced in giving and taking; kids who contribute meaningfully to their families and communities, and who in return can graciously receive and appreciate loving support.
Being a “Good Girl” isn’t good for you or your children. If you don’t sufficiently acknowledge and prioritize your own needs, how will they know you have them? Children learn to more happily give of themselves when parents genuinely appreciate what they offer. Behavior that you may have thought of as selfish – asking the children to help with household chores – is in fact just the opposite. You are demonstrating an appropriate way to have your needs met and are presenting your children with an opportunity to mature into more balanced adults.
Is your kid a giver or a taker?
If you’re pretty sure your child is either a taker or a giver, and you’d like to help them become more balanced, the first step is to consider your own behavior as a parent. Are you asking for the help you need? Are you encouraging your “giver” children to ask for what they need? Are you introducing “taker” children to the idea that they are expected to be active participants in the household. This can be a rough transition, but with calm persistence, positive change can be made.
Soul Selfish: The Awakening of a “Good Girl”