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Will your kids really be better off...

happyHBmomhhappyHBmom Posts: 2,070
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Matters of the Heart
knowing that you still cater to their every whim even though it hurts?

We all admit that our children know when we're hurting, so the question is: is martyring ourselves (going and going until we hurt for things that our children want but don't need) going to end up helping our kids, or our relationship to our kids?

Have you all ever heard of the concept of "good enough" parenting? It was one of my favorite theories in developmental psychology. The basic premise is that there is kind of a level of parenting quality (quality meaning all of those things we see as "good parents" vs. "bad parents") that is "good enough." To go below that has extreme consequences for the child. But above that, the rate of return for pushing that little bit harder and being the "best parent" is very small. In simple terms, the difference in outcome between "good enough" and "not good enough" is big, but the difference between "good enough" and "best" is tiny. And, of course, often what we consider "good parenting" is a matter of our own culture and upbringing and not related to outcomes at all, but that's a different discussion.

So in chronic pain, what is "good enough" parenting? To me, it's always being there for my kids, giving them love, nurturing, and affection. They do not begrudge my skipping school activities that would be painful, because why would they want me to hurt? But they also know if they told me something was important to them, I'd always push myself to do it.

I'm lucky, my kids are older and able to communicate. But even if you have small kids- or especially if you have small kids- pay close attention to whether it affects them when you put yourself in pain for them without question. Devotion is a lovely thing, but children do not need to be burdened with a parent who martyrs herself for motherhood. It's a balance.


  • HB there is alot of truth in your posts. Some of it is hard to admit even to ourselves because it seems wrong or we are afraid others with condemn us.

    My kids are 14 and 17 so they are pretty self-sufficient. But they still have needs that only mommy can satisfy. I try to do as much as I can to meet these needs but there are limits. They have done some to help me and i know that if I really need them all I have to do is ask. But I also know that telling them no some of the time is important. It makes them find other ways to do things.

    While not spine related I have one story that really illustrates this concept. When my daughter was 3 I needed to go back to work part time. I had been home for 6 years and needed some adult company. So I put her in full-time nursery school. My pay check was split between school and a car lease. ANd it was the best money I ever spent. She thrived in this environment. She learned, made friends and learned all the lessons that prepare us for life. My husband was soo upset. He felt being home alone with me would be better and that nursery school was babysitting.

    "good enough" parenting allows children to grow in so many ways. So it's time to stop feeling guilty.
  • Parenting is probably the most difficult aspect of my injury. Pre-injury, I was at every ballgame, dance practice, piano recital, etc. Get togethers with friends always happened at our home, I was the driver when the kids wanted to go to movies, etc. The list could go on and on. 90% of my evenings involved going somewhere with the kids. Outside of my career, being supermom was my identity.

    It was a huge shock to all of us when all of this suddenly stopped. But I've been doing this a while now, and what I have come to learn is that I put more pressure on myself than my children do. They understand when I'm not up to doing something. In fact, they would rather that I stay home and be here to greet them when they return. We recently went to Salt Lake City to tour a very beautiful setting with Christmas lights everywhere. It ended up that I stayed in the SUV laying down while the family walked through the blocks and enjoyed being out. And that was okay with them. When they returned back to the car, we all talked about the beautiful lights, and then stopped to get hot chocolate to enjoy on our drive home.

    I beat myself up about not being able to do what I used to do, but my kids are just happy that I try, and they understand when it doesn't work out.

    So I guess I'm trying to say that I've learned that for me it is okay to miss certain activities and things. I just make sure I give the kids my full attention when they want to talk. We can all play board games with the children, read to them, or do whatever our own physical limitations allow. The important thing is to still be as involved as you can.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    I had my first spinal surgery when my son was 4 and my daughter was about 2 months from being born.
    Even before they were about 7 years old, they know that their 'Daddy' had some back problems. My wife and I really didnt have to tell them. They watched the way I walked, did things, etc. So they were helping me with little things right from the start.

    In their teen years, they were really amazing. Any big thing that needed to get done, they were right there to help out, most of the time without even being asked. It never sacrificed their time with their friends and to them, it was almost normal.

    By the time I was 35, I figured my body was better of coaching then playing. For about 18 years, I coached boys and girls sports (Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Soccer, Hockey)from ages 7 to 17.

    That was sort of my way in doing more, not just for my kids, but to give a part of myself to other young children.

    Even know when my kids 36 and 32 (Notice I still say kids) are harder on me than my wife is. They wont allow me to do anything that requires a lot of back/neck/leg work.

    Its been a happy medium. As Cindy said, what really is important is finding The Right Balance

    Doing that will almost ensure things will turn out just fine.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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