to wonder whether good parenting has to be about sacrifice?

(87 Posts)
ljhooray Mon 23-Feb-09 16:29:26

OK deliberately provoking allsorts of debate with this title I know wink but I'm really intrigued to see what people's opinions on this are, having taken part in some discussions on a whole range of subjects over the past few weeks. So why this OP - well I'm thinking of having just one child as it means that me and dh get to spend plenty of time with dh and can still to a limited extent follow some of our own interests (is that selfish and not making the sacrifices to give dd a sibling?), I ff as I found bf too difficult (some would argue I should have tried harder!), although I have to work, if money was not so tight, I would probably still work some of the week (time I could devote to my dd). SO what do we all think? can't wait to see this discussion get going!

i think that all parents want to give their children the best they can.

obviously what the "best" is will vary wildly from person to person, so you can't really comment on "good" parenting with regard to how you behave.

by this I mean, personally I think that the best thing I can do for my young children is to stay at home and care for them.
other people may feel that the best they can do is go out to work so that they can afford more creature comforts and opportunities for their child.

so... the same goal, but very different outcomes.

I am willing to make sacrifices for my children. I sit at soft-play, I spend hours breastfeeding, I clean up the results of baby-led weaning every day... the list goes on. what matters to me that my children are happy and if that means I have to sacrifice things then so be it.

that doesn't mean that people who do things differently are not good parents though, does it?
think it's an entirely different thing

stillstanding Mon 23-Feb-09 16:38:40

Parenting should never be "about sacrifice" but there is always going to be some sacrifice involved. You are bringing a dependent child into the world and your needs will inevitably have to take a back seat at some point. Not all the time - there is no need for mummy martyrs - but quite a lot of the time ime.

Ultimately you have to do what is best for you AND your baby and only you know what that is.

I'd say no it shouldn't be about sacrifice, it should be about compromise. There's a lot to be said for being a "good enough" parent.

ljhooray Mon 23-Feb-09 16:41:15

stillstanding - I like the term mummy martyrs, a close friend of mine tells me she often finds herself in the 'court of motherhood' smile. I agree that the term 'sacrifice' will mean different things to different people and my OP was to explore exactly what interpretations there are out there.

Bucharest Mon 23-Feb-09 16:41:29

I hope all parents want to give their children the best they can....but what's best for me, might not be best for you. And we all have the right to want the best for ourselves as well as for our children I think.

I'd also like to think that having one child is no more selfish than having 6. Why would it be?

Jojay Mon 23-Feb-09 16:54:36

I think many of us don't see it as a 'sacrifice'

I have 2 ds's under 3 and so naturally my life pretty much revolves around them right now.

I don't go out for meals much, buy many clothes for myself or go on long haul holidays, like I did pre kids, but it feels right to channel my energies into bringing up my kids at the moment.

While I look back on these things with fondness, and occasonally hanker after them again, I don't resent being unable to do them right now. I've done them before and I will do them again, but right now it's all about the kids. I don't see that as a sacrifice.

chillybangbang Mon 23-Feb-09 17:20:03

Servicing all important relationships involve a degree of self-sacrifice; more so with children because they are vulnerable and dependent.

Personally I think the greatest misery I see in my own community is caused by the selfishness of people deliberately getting pregnant while in unstable and unhappy relationships.

LucyEllensmummy Mon 23-Feb-09 18:22:15

Im not sure what you are asking, if you are asking if we need to sacrifice everything (sometimes i bloody well feel like i do!) or whether you are being selfish for deciding to have only one child.

I am a parent of two lots of only children (huge age gap). I haven't been able to maintain any of my interests this time around as my support network consists of DP and thats pretty much it. Not moaning, just pointing out that unless you are a) really lucky to have people to baby sit etc, or b} able to organise professional childcare - pursuing your own interests is probably just as difficult with one child. Do i think having one child is selfish? Um, no - not at all. Sometimes i think, and have thought in the past - oh yes, it would be nice for DD to have a brother or sister and then i remind myself on how much friends and relations siblings bicker!! It would drive me nuts to have to be referee all the time. Seriously nuts!!! I too am an only child and i don't feel i suffered for it - i am a tad spoilt though (no, very spoilt!).

I have learnt a few lessons on the way of parenting one - and that is to make sure you establish a little group of friends for her really early on - i didnt do this with DD, because i was a young mum and the other mums snubbed me (or my imagination, i dont know). I make sure i get involved in stuff now - it drives me nuts, so that is a sacrifice i suppose.

As for your FF, you did what was best for you and your baby - no one can ask more of you than that!

As for sacrificing things, you do, don't you - i would kill for a lie in, for an afternoon sleep, for some time alone with DP. DD is nearly four and starting school in september, those things will come back.None of it really feels like a sacrifice, but if you were to list the things you didnt do or had to do as a parent then it would appear that you had basically sacrificed your entire life. Its not about that though is it - its about what you get back too - im sure you adore your DD and you are quite happy to do whatever it is that you do together (everyone enjoys different things).

I think sacrifice is a very strong word actually, because if you feel like you sacrificing things, that is one step from resentment. If im honest, i do find i get pretty close to that sometimes, but we all do.

katiestar Mon 23-Feb-09 18:40:53

Having a child is putting their needs before yours.So i don't think good parenting can be separated from sacrifice.

sarah293 Mon 23-Feb-09 18:47:32

Message withdrawn

MrsMattie Mon 23-Feb-09 18:50:40

I've sacrificed my career in all honesty - not forever, but I've definitely chucked away 5 years of ladder-climbing in order to be at home with my little 'uns. Totally my choice (and not for everyone!), but yes, it has been a sacrifice.

Obviously, in lots of small, everyday ways you put your kids before yourself. You have to.

pamelat Mon 23-Feb-09 18:55:47

I think by choosing to have only one child you sacrifice more of you. I imagine/hope that siblings provide a play mate.

I currently have one DD and she is 13 months. Currently I am her play mate but she enjoys it more than me! hmm

piscesmoon Mon 23-Feb-09 19:12:56

I think that you have to sacrifice some things, I would always put the needs of my DCs first, but I think that it is very important to give a good example of following your own interests and having relationships with other people as in DH. I cringe when people write on here that they 'devote' themselves to their children. I don't think that all that devotion is a good thing-some benign neglect is much healthier. The parent's job is to eventually let go and there is nothing worse than them feeling responsible for their mother's emotional well being. I think you sacrifice less with one child-they come up to your level-as soon as you have more than one you go down to their level.

RubyRioja Mon 23-Feb-09 19:16:27

I suspect good parenting is about might the right sacrifices in the right amounts for you and yours.

I have totally buggered my career, but whilst I loved my job, it never loved me back, so pretty sure it was the right decision.

beanieb Mon 23-Feb-09 19:19:35

I think being an only child has as many disadvantages as being one of two or more. For a child each set of circumstances can have a different effect.

Good parenting is good parenting and is the most important thing. So long as you use that free time and extra money to benefit your child then having one shouldn't be something to worry about.

Not sure what breast feeding/FF has to do with anything?

MrsMattie Mon 23-Feb-09 19:20:26

lol@RubyRioja - so relate with you on the 'my job never loved me back' thing.

Judy1234 Mon 23-Feb-09 19:37:29

both parents make sacrifices. The secret as a mother is to ensure you don't become the martyr who then berates the child for life about what you gave up for the child. Make a choice about how you;ll do things and then realise it was for the best.

Breastfeeding is hugely hugely pleasurable, one of the nicest things I've done over 24 years as a mother for all kinds of reasons. It's is not sacrificial. Holding a crying baby all night which most parents have done is of course and even those of us who only took a few weeks maternity leave and went back to work full time to support large families etc know all about night crying and dealing with toddler tantrums and teenagers' issues.

having an only cnild can be a bit dull and makes much more work for the parent in my view. It uis so wonderfully easy now having five chidlren and all those older ones to help with younger ones. They are always all saying how much they love being in such a big family and it was all possbile of course because I work so it becomes affordable.

On the other hand 5 children costing £10k a year in either cost of nanny or school fees or university costs to age 23 is £1.15million out of taxed income. I could think of other things I might have spent £1.15m on that may be might be a bit more selfish... and actualyl now we're talking millions the almost £1m I had to borrow to pay their father on the divorce feels fairly self sacrificial.

MrsMattie Mon 23-Feb-09 19:40:02

Oh Xenia. You do make me chuckle.

devilisunaccomplishedinprada Mon 23-Feb-09 19:57:08

By pamelat Mon 23-Feb-09 18:55:47

"I think by choosing to have only one child you sacrifice more of you. I imagine/hope that siblings provide a play mate."

I agree. smile It's much easier now I've got 2 rather than 1. Was obviously harder having a baby and toddler but now I have a school age child and a toddler it really is A LOT easier. They play together all the time and look out for each other. giving me more time to MN. wink It's harder having to entertain 1 child.

Habbibu Mon 23-Feb-09 19:58:57

I know, Mrs M, but this is spot on: both parents make sacrifices. The secret as a mother is to ensure you don't become the martyr who then berates the child for life about what you gave up for the child. Make a choice about how you;ll do things and then realise it was for the best.

sarah293 Mon 23-Feb-09 20:09:47

Message withdrawn

MrsMattie Mon 23-Feb-09 20:15:49

Yes, yes@Habbibu. I do sometimes agree with Xenia grin.

I just love the way every one of her posts becomes a potted biography-cum-thinly veiled attack on anyone who doesn;t do it her way. The 5 kids. The leeching, lowly paid ex. The fortnight's matenrity leave. The breastfeeding and nurturing despite the 23 hour working days etc etc etc

<sigh>

unpaidworker Mon 23-Feb-09 20:41:30

Who knows? Not one person can decide what is the right way to parent for everyone. smile

Mooseheart Mon 23-Feb-09 20:47:13

A 'good' parent will always care about their children's welfare - from what they eat, how they are educated, to how they evolve generally as well-rounded, basically nice individuals. It just doesn't necessarily have to equal complete martyrdom.

Quite frankly, I don't think to be a complete mummy martyr is to be a particularly good example. I cannot see how it can teach children valuable lessons in self-respect, resourcefulness or putting others first; rather it can have the reverse effect... children and teenagers naturally have little real appreciation of what their parents sacrifice for them. (That probably sounds cynical, and I'm sure there are some perfect children out there with an inordinately evolved appreciation of their parents, but still...)

Neither is it a good thing to be a parent that doesn't nurture their children by spending time with them and listening to them, and appreciating them - even if it does feel one-sided at times!

I think a balance has to be struck; give up the career/the next child/the sports car/whatever if you're OK with it, but don't if you think it will make you resentful of the way in which your life has panned out. Like so many have said on here, it should be a question of doing what makes you contented and balanced... I would like my children to learn to get out there and be what they want to be, to not apologise for who they are, and to be confident within themselves. It is only when we feel confident about the choices that we have made for ourselves and our families that children can feed off that confidence. I very much believe that such things are learned subliminally.

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