Healthy Minds, Healthy Souls – Parenting Myths, Part III: Your Children’s Needs Before Your Own

If you have ever traveled by plane, you have heard the attendants preparing us for take off by using the infamous phrase, “Should our aircraft at any time lose air pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Please place the oxygen mask over your own mouth and nose before placing it over your children.” We hear it said, we know it’s probably right, but doesn’t it seem to go against the grain of our very own instincts as parents to protect ourselves before we protect them?

Parents love their children often more than life itself, in fact I find myself telling my children all the time the words, “I love you more than you’ll ever know.” I can’t even put into words the level of love I have for them, it’s just something I feel they can’t even know or begin to understand. Feeling so strongly drives us to wanting to express that love that strongly, sometimes at the cost of our own limits. We are blocked by the realization that our own fuel tanks are not limitless. We have physical and emotional limits to our giving and without recharging our own batteries, we live life, at best compromised and raising children who are not even aware of how we feel or what we need.

So, what needs should come first when it comes to our children? When can parents safely put their needs ahead of their children’s? What’s the benefit of this style of parenting?

As parents, we are driven by providing our children with proper nutrition, adequate sleep, social interaction (play dates), mental stimulation, physical play and helping them to generally have fun and be successful. The truth is, most parents are happier when they themselves have these same needs as priorities in their own lives. Most parents are also happier when they have interests that go beyond their children’s interests; a weekly yoga class, book club, volunteer ministry, cake decorating class, or club tennis.

Not only are parents happier when their needs are met, but there is another fabulous hidden benefit! Listening to you feeding your soul, watching you take care of your own nutrition, physical body, and interests, teaches children among many things, to be more patient, less self-indulgent and more empathetic. They realize, “There is more than just me in the world.”

Don’t we want to give our children the gift of learning to be more patient, living with awareness of others, empathy and compassion toward others’ needs, and the awareness that they too, must nurture their own mental, emotional, spiritual and physical needs if they want to be happy and live life as their best selves? These are the gifts we give our children when begin to give toward ourselves. Don’t miss this beautiful opportunity. Give something toward yourself today and take note of how taking care of you, allows you to better take care of others!

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
(Luke 5:15–16)

“Didn’t you know I needed to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” (Matt. 12:25)

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