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Selfish vs martyr - which is a better role model for children?

(84 Posts)
Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 17:59:04

Ideally of course neither. But if it was between the two, what is less damaging for them to see?

So as not to drip feed, I'm often accused of being a martyr by my DH (I don't agree), whereas he acknowledges he is very selfish. His theory is that it's better to get what you want in life no matter who you upset along the way. My theory isn't quite the same.

VileStatistyx Sat 01-Nov-14 18:00:47

i think they are equally damaging, tbh. In different ways.

SandyJ2014 Sat 01-Nov-14 18:02:15

Life calls for both in different situations?.. The litmus test however must be 1. In terms of selfishness, that your actions are always dignified and not immoral and 2. In terms of being a Martyr, that you are always acting with self respect.

I hope that makes sense!!

Yarp Sat 01-Nov-14 18:03:19

You sound a bit unsuited, OP.

And what he accuses you of is not necessarily the reality of what you are doing.

Mampire Sat 01-Nov-14 18:04:18

Interesting question. The two roles often "find" each other. A taker and a giver so many children view this unhealthy dynamic.

Yarp Sat 01-Nov-14 18:04:29

I would say the ideal is assertiveness. Unfortunately many of us find true assertiveness gard to realise, mistaking it for aggression in many cases

Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 18:06:47

to give an example. If I pop to the shops to do a food shop at a weekend, I will often get him a little cake or something like that. I don't usually get myself anything because I like doing nice things for other people rather than for myself (not sure if that's martyr like). I will also make sure I get his favourite food or anything I think he might like that's on offer. I see that as normal behaviour.

He will go to the shop and get himself a little tasty something, get his favourite food, stock up on anything he likes that's on offer....he fully admits that's selfish but his theory being if I want something I can go and get it anytime I want. My DC have often commented on it being selfish behaviour (he won't get them things either).

Mampire Sat 01-Nov-14 18:07:44

Ah i get it. Op you need to stop debating it with him. Have a clear idea in your head what u r prepared to do/give/concede, and do/give/concede no more than that but dont discuss it. The only way to make a selfish person less selfish is ti be more selfish. Debating your right to occasionally take only feeds a selfish peeson's sense of entitlement.

SelfLoathing Sat 01-Nov-14 18:07:56

I would say martyr because (I assume you are talking about a role model in terms of a marriage) and relationships are primarily about compromise.

Mampire Sat 01-Nov-14 18:09:15

If that sounds miserable then i guess he is wrong for u

Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 18:12:25

In terms of a marriage and as an adult really.

It's a tricky one for me because my DM acted the martyr but was incredibly selfish so I don't have the parenting role model to have learnt from.

Yarp Sat 01-Nov-14 18:13:11


He sounds ungrateful as well as selfish.

tobeabat Sat 01-Nov-14 18:14:38

In your example, do you also get things for the DC that they will like?

Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 18:16:50

Oh yes of course I get things for the DC!

Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 18:18:21

A lot of things I do, helping at school for example, or helping out a friend is classed as being a martyr. Basically anything where I don't directly gain. Whereas I think they are things you just do if you can.

Yarp Sat 01-Nov-14 18:20:13

Does he help anyone?

tobeabat Sat 01-Nov-14 18:21:38

It doesn't sound necessarily martyr - like to me, these things you do - just considerate, sociable and pretty 'normal'

Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 18:21:47

Himself? I mean he would help me if I asked him to (maybe). But he doesn't help family or friends. Not sure about work colleagues, doubt it!

Toastandstrawberryjam Sat 01-Nov-14 18:24:04

See I worry that it is martyr like. A friend recently had a bad week and I made her a big cake and took it round and left it on her doorstep as a surprise. She was thrilled. He told me it was a stupid thing to do as I gained nothing from it and lost time and money for ingredients. I didn't see it like that. I didn't do it because I wanted anything, just to cheer her up a bit. But I don't want my DC to see me as a doormat.

hollie84 Sat 01-Nov-14 18:24:25

Both approaches are weird imo - making a point of getting him something and not yourself, why do you do that? Is it a passive aggressive thing?

Getting himself a treat and no one else is thoughtless and selfish.

hollie84 Sat 01-Nov-14 18:25:23

Doing a nice thing for someone else isn't being a martyr, making a point about yourself suffering or missing out because of it is.

lemonpuffbiscuit Sat 01-Nov-14 18:26:15

Yes what sandy said.

Both my parents were marters - dad to his work and mum generally. It meant that when I hit problems (being bullied, being pestered, badly treated etc) I was made to feel like I should accept the crap going on. After a while I stopped telling them problems as I knew they were next to useless and wouldn't stand up for me. I see now them as weak and having skewered priorities. However I also don't agree with being selfish either. I'm in the great middle ground where my needs are met but I really look out for those I love. I used to be a total marter but had to learn to say no as I was being taken advantage of big time.

Yarp Sat 01-Nov-14 18:28:34

He doesn't sound nice to me

I am no way as thoughtful as you, OP. Don't bake for instance

But for someone to make a virtue out of getting what you want and not caring who you upset, that's not my kind of person

Is he trying to wind you up. This all sounds quite hostile - name calling etc

Yarp Sat 01-Nov-14 18:30:05

And yes, what you describe doesn't sound martyrish, unless you are unable to say when you don't want to do something and then complain about it

RandomMess Sat 01-Nov-14 18:30:06

You do get something from helping others etc. It's one of your "love languages" you get a good feeling from being thoughtful and expressing it in a practical way.

IMHO being a doormat is something different, it's allowing people to treat you unkindly/unfairly and then sort of priding yourself in putting up with it.

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