As a new(ish) parent (my son is 2), I feel overwhelmed with other people’s schedules of activities and experiences. It’s like the challenge to give your kid the most unique childhood is this unspoken contest I had no clue existed. Find out why I decided that my kid doesn’t come first.
I listen to some mother’s schedules and I second guess myself. “Maybe I should be taking my kid to every story hour. Maybe he does need to go on every ride at the town festival. Maybe I should be arranging regular play dates. Maybe I should be going broke making all these cool backyard obstacle courses.”
But my kid doesn’t come first.
Yes, our son is special and sweet and utterly spoiled, but we don’t put him first. He gets lots of our attention. And most of our attention when he’s sick or when he was an infant. But as he grows and develops, we don’t hesitate to make him wait or tell him ‘no.’
Read More: My Son’s Birth Story
3 Reasons Why My Kid Doesn’t Come First
1. Strong Marriage
My husband and I don’t put our son first because our marriage comes first.
We need to put our marriage first because without a strong marriage, there won’t be a strong family. Our son won’t have as stable environment if we are on-edge and distant from each other as partners.
If we let the world revolve around our child at home, he will think the whole world really should revolve around him. It would be a disservice to let him think this and then boot him out into a world full of billions of other people looking out for themselves.
I want our son to learn how to be part of a family. Part of a body and mission larger than just himself.
For now, that family and body looks like my husband and me. In later years, that family could be a group of friends, a sports team or a company he works for.
He needs to learn how to be a team player and participate with others to achieve a common goal.
When I was growing up, we did things as a family. If I wanted to do something extra, I had to find my own ride and make my own arrangements. Yep, including volleyball that I so badly wanted to be in. I arranged my own ride home every night after practice.
This was partly because we had a dairy farm and our parents couldn’t run to town at the drop of a hat.
But mostly, we did things as a family.
And the more we do things as a family, the more opportunity our son will have to see his parents working together, working hard toward a common goal that he gets to be part of, too!
It’s important that your children witness you putting each other first and also taking care of yourself. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you will have less to give to your family.
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2. Develop Fighting Skills
Giving our son everything he wants and making life as easy as possible for him will only harm him.
Along with being able to play and work as a team with the family, he also needs to learn how to constructively fight for what he wants.
No, not actual fist fighting….but that will probably happen, too.
But persistence, fortitude, stamina and confidence to take a stand for what he wants. To run hard after his dreams without expecting Mom and Dad to clear the way or pick up the tab.
He needs to be a problem solver.
A fighter with his mind.
As he’s developing his fighter characteristics, he will also have to develop survival characteristics. He’ll need a thick skin to ignore the haters. He’ll need a selectively porous skin to take constructive criticism. Most of all, he’ll need a strong mind to determine the difference between the two.
Read More: 5 Reasons You are Failing as a Homemaker
3. Empty Nester Years
In my head, the longer a couple is married, the more guarantee they have of staying together. But my heart is saddened at the increasing number of couples I hear separating after 20 to 30 years of marriage.
I can’t help but wonder what role their parenting methods played in this relationship decay.
I wonder if raising kids took precedent over their marriage relationship. No matter how you parent, there will always be an adjustment moving into empty nester years. Perhaps a focus on marriage even through child rearing years would fortify a marriage to last even after the kids are gone.
Thirty years down the road, I want to know my husband even better than I know him today. Our son will grow and leave and start his own life. Therefore my husband and I should not put our relationship on hold while we raise our son.
I’m not saying you have to do extravagant trips or pricey date nights to maintain this relationship. But it’s okay to put the kids to bed early so you can watch a movie. Or leave the kids home with an older sibling while you go for a drive or take a walk.
I want me and my husband’s relationship to be in tact to nurture and spoil grandkids.
Yes, I want to give my son the best childhood possible.
But in my book that looks like just doing life. Playing in his sandbox, going to the pumpkin patch, riding with Dad in the tractor, “helping” Mom do dishes and any other every day life experiences to build character and integrity in our son.
I don’t go out of my way to develop his imagination. He just plays. I don’t buy expensive toys to develop hand/eye coordination. He just helps put silverware away. He’s not enrolled in any special life classes. He just climbs trees, harvests vegetables, feeds calves and reads lots of books.
I’m not loosing my mind running my son everywhere or enrolling him in lessons just to make sure he’s a well-rounded child. I’m just including him in every day life. And through everyday life he will discover that he doesn’t come first, but that he still plays a very important roll in our family and in this world.