Being an “outsider” (a dad that more often feels like he fits the views of Mommy Bloggers [don’t get me started on that please) than Daddy Bloggers), I do not often delve into discussions that take on their own lives, jumping from blog to blog with opinions. After all, firstly I am an outsider, and second most of these take place on blogs that have readership that are far greater than mine.
But, after giving myself a 24 hour cooling off period, the desire to chime in has not waned, and so I figured it was time.
The current topic of parents sacrifices, is I am sure not new. But I got caught up following this current wave, here, here, here, and (to a slightly lesser extent) here, If you are a parent, you sacrifice for your kids. Period. I thought the one posted by Sheri over at Mamazine.com was particularly great at giving the topic true balance, and I am not going to try and say how much any particular parent should or should not sacrifice for your child. Every parent (OK, maybe not EVERY parent, but you know what I mean), tries to do what is best for their child, and while we as people may not necessarily agree on every topic, we can agree we want what is best for our children.
OK, so where is the fetering that caused me to write this? Glad you asked. There were two places where this topic veered off slightly that got to me, and this entailed what defines “sacrifice.”
Motherhood Uncencored, covers how some people (and again, she lays it all as a “mother” thing, but I am the outsider, so I prefer to point at “people”, while acknowleging that this apparently far more common in mothers than fathers), take on ALL responsibilities, because “We try, in our own crazy way, to DO IT ALL. Not necessarily because we want to, but we believe that we have to so that our kids will have the best chance to be, well, the best.” I don’t classify this as “sacrifice” because while you are certainly giving of yourself, you are equally satisfying that Type A side of yourself that has already determined that there is nobody as capable as you.
She goes on with one more item that absolutely makes my skin crawl when she says, “Sacrificial mothering is the new black, didn’t you know?” That is not sacrifice, that is self glorified matyrdom. When my daughter was small, I was the one that got up in the middle of the night for feedings. Not because it made me some sort of “hip 21st century dad,” but because I thought it was what was best for everybody.
By being well rested, I believed (and still do) that my wife would be better able to deal with the issues of being home with our child all day long. Now call it what you want, but it could hardly be said that my wife “sacrificed” anything despite the fact that in the long run it was (I believe) good for our daughter, because it was a benefit to her to get a good nights sleep.
Similarly, when Morphing into Mamma, tries to justify sleep training as her “sacrifice”, I can’t help but laugh. I am not going to delve into the rights and wrongs of sleep training, that is far too divisive an issue, and again, if it works for you, I will not (at least try not to) judge you for it, (because the intention on a whole are good) but please call it what it is. Sleep training is for the benefit of the parents, not the child. While the long term benefits are certainly there for the child (much like my well rested spouse was a benefit to our daughter), there is no way you can take it and call it your sacrifice. You feel bad when you heard your child crying? Well I certainly hope so. Was it a sacrifice for YOU to not pick up the child? NO! Willpower perhaps, but sacrifice, let us be real. The proof is in the statement at the end of her post, “The Sleep Train” when she says, “Iâ€™m jumping on that sleep train, and I donâ€™t plan on getting off at the next stop. My kids are going to sleep. Iâ€™m going to sleep. Weâ€™re all going to sleep!” I give all the credit in the world for her determination (and success), but calling that sacrificing for your child is akin to pushing snake-oil.
You sacrifice because you love your child, And I am not questioning whether or not or how much the children are loved. And lest I be misuderstood, there are plenty of people that “get lost” in being a parent, and that is of benefit to no one, and things certainly should be done for the benefit of the parent if for no other reason that the child is better off in the long run with a happy well adjusted parent, and not one sitting in the corner babbling, “Elmo’s Song” and having “High School Musical” be the most intellectual thing you have seen on television since your child was born. But be honest about it and call it what it is.