Parenthood or Victimhood?

lens shift May 07, 2021

Parenthood is not victimhood.

Let’s promise ourselves that we will never say the following things to our children:

1- “Do you know what kind of pain I went through to give birth to you?”

2- “Do you know hard I work to provide for you?”

3- “You drive me nuts!” (“Pagal kar daitay ho tum!”)

4- “Because of you I haven’t eaten/rested/slept.”

5- “I take care of everything for you and you…”

6- You’re so ungrateful!”

7- “Your mother works hard all day to give you everything you need!” (Father)

8- “Your father works so hard to meet all your needs!” (Mother)

9- “What haven’t we done for you?” (“Kia Kia nahi kiya tumharay liyay!”

10- “… in return all we ask is that you…”

Yes, parenthood is hard, demanding and sometimes feels unrewarding and we absolutely CAN and SHOULD fill our cups and take care of our needs and turn to family and friends for support.

But a parent-child relationship is not a give-take relationship. We don’t give them life’s necessities in exchange for good grades, blind obidence and lack of difficult emotions. We don’t educate them, feed them, nurture them and protect them in return for them making sure we look good to the world. We don’t cook, clean, work etc. in return for their gratitude and return service.

In short: our children don’t exist to fulfill any of our needs.

(I don’t see though, why they wouldn’t absolutely love to be there for us انشاللہ when they’re adults)

Yes, all children can and should be encouraged to be grateful, do chores, pull their weight in the family, strive to do well in life etc. but the WAY to inspire these awesome habits is not to emotionally blackmail children with our own victimhood. Or to constant verbalize our unmet needs to them.

The only way to cultivate gratitude and good work ethic is to treat our children with gratitude, kindness and grace. We can’t demand these things out of someone and the more we do, the less motivated someone feels. Everything we do, has to be done from the right place in our hearts- we’re doing it because it’s our duty. Our farz. I also consider it an honor but that’s just me.

Think about the people in your life you often express gratitude to… who you openly say to, “I’m so grateful for everything you do for me!” Chances are it’s not the person who’s ever said to you, “Look at everything I’ve done for you! You’re so ungrateful!”

Last note on victimhood: Whenever I’m starting to feel like a victim in my role as a mother, I do two things:

1- Acknowledge that I’m struggling and not feeling ok. Acknowledge that I have unmet needs that are not my kids’ job to meet. Plan how I’m going to meet these needs for myself. What tasks can I forgo to reduce my stress? What task can I delegate for money? Who can I ask for help?

2- Pause and shift my mindset right away -> it’s an honor to have children and a family to take care of. Would I rather have all the time in the world and no stress without my sweet children? (And I didn’t have kids for 8 years so it’s an easy mind shift for me).

Here’s the hardest realization I’ve ever had: only I can save myself.

Here’s the most freeing realization I’ve ever had: only I can save myself.

Picture: I do get help with chores because that’s how awesome kids are. When given space, time and unconditional love- they surpass our goodness in every way!