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To think kids shouldn’t always come first

242 replies

Winosaurus · 25/10/2017 09:59

I know this is going to be a divisive topic but I have read so many times on MN that “kids should always be your priority” and “kids should always come first” and I just want to know why people think this?
I think the welfare of children is the most important, their financial, emotional and health related needs should be prioritised but I think so many people these days confuse needs and wants.
My kids do not always come first in my life. I gave them life but I didn’t give them mine, and I do things that make me happy too even if they’re not fully on board. On a basic level I weigh it up - if we have spare cash and they need something essential then of course their needs come first, but if they want something but so do I then I don’t always try to appease them and like to buy things for myself too.
I think putting kids constantly first and particularly ahead of a relationship/ marriage is unhealthy. My parents were happily married for 32 years and were the most amazing parents - yet we were not the most important part of their life, their marriage to each other was and they took time and effort to maintain that.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who’s DC was having an almighty meltdown about her and her DH going to dinner without him. She relented and took him because “DC’s happiness comes first”.
I honestly think this is why we have so many entitled kids devoid of empathy.
Just saying Grin

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pipistrell · 25/10/2017 10:50

The parents I see who are engendering this sense of entitlement just never say no. they will do anything and everything so that their child never suffers a milisecond of suboptimal living.

Including -

Watching their children run around a busy restaurant waving an umbrella at eye level and saying nothing

Travelling to their child's boarding school to tidy their room, change their bedding and wash their clothes

Having no house rules for a 13 year old at all - out until whenever they want, no structure and no rules

The kids in question are all lovely, but they are like untrained puppies. No idea about how to look after themselves or acceptable behaviour boundaries.

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WhataHexIgotinto · 25/10/2017 10:51

I do agree Wino, I don't suppose my example is a good one.

DSD was 3 (23 now) when I came into his life and I think I probably fell into the category of trying to do whatever he wanted at first to be 'accepted' by him.

My DH and his ex (who was always absolutely lovely to me and is now one of my dearest friends), told me that that wasn't what he needed and it wasn't how they wanted to raise him. It was a learning curve for me but they were absolutely right and we carried on in the same vein when our own DC's came along. Their needs and wants are very different.

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Lifeisforliving25 · 25/10/2017 10:51

Wish I could somehow be like this I'm the complete opposite - I never leave daughter to go out ( haven't been out in 4 years )
Never buy myself anything
She has nice clothes , gets what she wants for Christmas every bit of money spare goes on her.
I spend 24/7 with her, she shares my room for night time and has the other room as her play room.
But I do think your way is healthier but I've never managed it ! Something I'm going to work on.

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Belleoftheball8 · 25/10/2017 10:52

Winosaurus You statement in relation to he step parent isn’t even comparable because often or not it’s the case of the NRP who sees their child or certain day rather than every day so they should be priorty the two scenarios you meantion aren’t even comparable at all.

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Winosaurus · 25/10/2017 10:52

IMO the most important part of parenting is teaching your children how to lead successful lives in adulthood. Always putting their wants first isn’t going to achieve this, it’s setting them up for a big fall Confused

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pipistrell · 25/10/2017 10:52

well put mindutopia

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frogsoup · 25/10/2017 10:55

MAnchesterGin, your school playground is full of kids wearing 700 pound coats?!!! Where do you live? Blimey, I live in a pretty upper middle class area but can pretty much guarantee that not a single one of the 600-odd kids at our local school wear 700 quid coats.

As for the OP, I tend to agree. Though I suspect we all fall at different ends of the spectrum at different times. We are mostly of the benign neglect school, but I must admit I do load myself like a pack pony sometimes to avoid my kids carrying their own stuff from school Blush

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youarenotkiddingme · 25/10/2017 10:56

Fabulous post - couldn't agree more.

My ds has ASD and so his needs are greater than most his age.

But his needs are food, warmth, love, personal care reminders and time to understand the world.

There are times he doesn't get to do the things he wants

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WhataHexIgotinto · 25/10/2017 10:56

Lifeisforliving, please think about what you can do to change this. Your DD really will not thank you in the end.

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MrsZenMum · 25/10/2017 11:02

I completely agree. I also think it sets a good example to your children to see how an adult lives their life with kids. They get to see the whole you and not jus the mum version.

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talllikejerryhall · 25/10/2017 11:02

The thing is once you have kids, the world invariably revolves around them, but they don't necessarily need to know that!

And making it clear that parents are a united front - that children can't get around decision-making by appealing to other parent - is healthy.

Having just had a day with just my husband, as we were both flat out with flu and grandparents had kids overnight for first time, I can honestly say it was amazing to have time just with him (even though very ill!)

Making proper time for each other will definitely make it easier to bear the more boring, nose to grindstone aspects of life.

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Clandestino · 25/10/2017 11:04

EveningShadows
What I wanted to point out was the fact that "putting your children first" is a very vague area. We all have different ideas of what it entails.

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QueenAmongstMen · 25/10/2017 11:04

It's a really difficult question.

I don't know if it means I'm pandering to my children but generally they are my priority.

For example, if we had a family day I would always go somewhere they wanted to go. I would never put my wants over their's and drag them somewhere they'd hate just because I want to go.

If there's only one packet of crisps left I would always give it to my son and not have it for myself.

I would far rather spend my money on my children than myself. If it came to buying something I want or buying something for one of my children I would always choose to get something for them.

If I'm due to go out for the day to do something for myself but one of my children was unwell I would prioritise staying at home with them even though my DH is home.

I recently got the chance for promotion and I turned it down because my children are my priority. My want to climb the career ladder and have more money etc does not outweigh my children wanting me at home.

At the same time though I still make time for myself, for example, my DS is currently in pre-school even though he doesn't need to be, just so I can have some peace and space. However, he loves going to pre-school and does benefit from it so I don't particularly feel like I'm being selfish for sending him.

If I'm watching a programme on the TV and DS says he wants to watch something else he's told he has to wait until my show has finished and I send him off to play/do something else in the meantime.

There are lots of ways I put myself first but primarily my children are my main focus and I can't imagine ever prioritising myself over them.

As an aside, to the poster who talked about the Step Parenting forum and people being told they should end their relationships because the children aren't happy with it, I agree. I think all adults deserve happiness and love and to allow children to have some form of control over their relationships, to the point where a parent should forsake their own happiness, sits uneasy with me.

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Evilstepmum01 · 25/10/2017 11:06

There is a fine balance though surely? I'm a stepmum and a mum so we try to balance both kids needs and wants so they're happy, without giving in to their every whim.
SD is lovely but her mum gives her whatever she wants. So she can be entitled, though we firmly rein in that when she's with us. Her mum has guilt as she left SD as a baby, so she tries to make herself feel better by buying SD whatever she wants, and stuff she doesnt want. Those are her issues, but they do lead to SD being very disrespectful to her mum. Something we dont get involved in as thats up to her mum.
We 'spoil' both our kids to a degree, but expect a certain respect from them. The same 'respect your elders' I was taught as a child. When it comes to holidays, we agree as a family where we're going and the kids get to pick some activities, but we explain its our holiday too so we will be doing some historical visits which they might find boring.
Thats tough I;m afraid as our family does not revolve around one person. Her mums family revolves around SD, so its a tricky one but we do our very best to teach both kids humility and humanity and there we must leave it.

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brasty · 25/10/2017 11:06

If you are rich, I don't see the problem with kids wearing £700 coats. If parents are going without a warm coat themselves to pay for the kids £700 coat, then that is ridiculous.
It is about a reasonable balance.

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Mamabear3017 · 25/10/2017 11:06

I'm kind of with the OP.

I love my DS dearly.....however, sometimes his "wants" aren't met.

Welcome to the real world.

Sometimes I have to put me first....hopefully he'll grow up to understand that I am a human just like him & have feelings just like he does.

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YellowMakesMeSmile · 25/10/2017 11:06

I disagree, I don't want my children growing up to believe that I was just here to create them and see to their needs. They would be on the relationships boards with numerous problems in adult life.

They are little for such a short period of time so tailoring life round them for those years I don't see as being a problem in any way. We choose days out that suit, holidays that suit etc and they are rarely left without both of us bar work.

Putting children first doesn't make them entitled, it's attitudes and behaviour that does that.

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fakenamefornow · 25/10/2017 11:10

If there's only one packet of crisps left I would always give it to my son and not have it for myself.

Wouldn't you just share it?

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Winosaurus · 25/10/2017 11:11

Belleoftheball I think with regard to access arrangements of SCs then sometimes they have to change slightly if the DF’s circumstances change. My DP’s Ex left him for OM and Ex being single at the time agreed to having the SCs every weekend. It’s not pheasible to move on and date doing that when you’re working 5.30am - 7pm. Something has to give, so now we do EOW and the weekend in between for one night. Often people agree to access arrangements as they’re desperate to keep the peace and at the time it was fine, but parents of split relationships are allowed to have the time to persue interests outside of the immediate family.
Similarly my Ex saw our DCs ad hoc whenever they/he wanted to, but when I met my DP I had to insist we had a more formal access arrangement so I could make plans within my personal life as well as parenting

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frogsoup · 25/10/2017 11:12

"For example, if we had a family day I would always go somewhere they wanted to go. I would never put my wants over their's and drag them somewhere they'd hate just because I want to go."

See that's interesting. Because I was dragged on walks to beautiful places and into museums and churches as a child. I certainly protested. But am I pleased in retrospect that they did? Of course! It set me up for a love of the outdoors and of culture and beautiful places. And I'm doing the same with my own kids. Of course there's a balance, but I tend to think parents that exclusively take their kids to theme parks and places set up exclusively for children are not necessarily doing them a favour. It's part of our job to expose them to a wider world of options, even if that isn't necessarily their immediate preference.

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LyingWitchInTheWardrobe2726 · 25/10/2017 11:13

I agree with you OP and I think we have a generation of children who feel that they're more important than anybody else.

I think children's NEEDS come first but their WANTS are different and shouldn't be prioritised above other people's needs. Wants are prioritised in this house and we do naturally do things that the kids would like because it's nice to do that but if we don't then we don't. I don't care what anybody else does with their children.

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Bekabeech · 25/10/2017 11:13

Totally disagree!
Because you've shown OP that "kids come first" is not about buying stuff for the kids first, and pandering to their every whim - but is about their emotional needs.
Yes parents should put their children's needs before any partner. No I wouldn't allow any partner who abused my children. If DH and I split up, I could happily stay single if necessary until the kids were "grown up" and longer. Any partner I did introduce would have to know they are my top priority, and they would have a right of veto on anyone moving in.

But yes my children do also know I have feelings and things I want to do. holidays are about doing things everyone wants, and sometimes not doing things (20 mile hikes). If something is someone's absolute top priority then we would try to make it happen (e.g. child care if necessary).
And I know my DC could point out all the things I've got wrong over the years.

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brasty · 25/10/2017 11:14

Yes family days out and holidays should be about balancing everyone's needs.

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Rachie1973 · 25/10/2017 11:17

My husband and I have 6 between us. We had residency of all of them.

14 years down the line we still have disagreements with the NRPs over the difference between 'needs and wants'.

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FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty · 25/10/2017 11:17

I'm very much of the opinion that children need to learn realistic expectations of life. Seeing kids whose parents pander to their every whim, giving them everything they ask for, ferrying them about day and night, makes me concerned for the future of these little princes/princesses when they realise that the world does not revolve around them as adults.

In fact I've seen the exact end result in their parents who were obviously parented in the same way and DO expect the world to revolve around them, doing the bare minimum to help out, expecting to be treated as more special than everyone else. It's quite wearing.

My own DM was a 'benign neglect' type - hands off, let us grow up with independence and respect. My parents were very loving but also very busy and not always well-off, so we didn't get everything we wanted and had to help out with cooking, shopping, tidying etc. I am bringing my DCs up in a similar way, as a single parent. Luckily their dad is on the same page so they don't get 'Disney Dad' at his house.

As a childminder I see the way children interact with their parents when they come to collect and the behaviour does seem to correlate with their attitude towards their parents. Unfortunately pandering to them makes for entitled and disrespectful children.

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