Children Don’t Exist for Parents

Written by on October 24, 2007 in Conversations on the Healing Journey with 4 Comments

I think most of us don’t know that. If you look at it worldwide, children are often seen as social security benefits. Depending on the customs of the land, that’s the reason why girls are devalued in parts of the world. They grow up to serve their husband’s families, so having a girl child is like investing in something that will have no return. Children are there to serve their parents.

But even in more progressive countries, that claim to value human rights and the individual, children don’t seem to rate. There’s a lot of lip service, but the bottom line is we have so many expectations on our children that have more to do with us than them.

There are a lot of good parents – in every country. And I do believe most parents want what’s best for their child, but too many, even with best intentions, have difficulty seeing their children as separate beings. And then there are those who don’t want what’s best for their child. They aren’t capable of caring for anyone, including their children, more than themselves.

To these parents, children have come to serve them, not so much as social security, but as image security. A lot of children live to reflect back to their parents what their parents need to believe about themselves.

But that’s our jobs as parents. We’re supposed to be the mirrors to our children. We’re supposed to reflect back to them what they’re thinking and feeling, to validate who they are so they can develop a sense of identity, to see them so they know they exist and matter.

They’re not supposed to do that for us. That’s role reversal, and it happens way too often.

I know a father who resents having to take his daughter to school on “his time” with her, and often doesn’t, a mother who calls her high school daughter in the middle of class to cry on her shoulder because of marital strife, a grandparent who insists on having her grandchild, not when she truly wants to have her, but only when its inconvenient for the parents. And if she can’t wrest that child away from the parents at that time, then she won’t see her grandchild, at all.

There are issues that each adult obviously has to deal with. Children should be kept out of it, and if any of these adults would stop one moment and step out of themselves, they could see – the evidence would be self explanatory, that their behavior is harmful and selfish.

It’s frustrating. But it’s even sadder, when relationships become strained and children no longer want to be participate in these unhealthy dynamics. And then the adults wonder why, looking for someone to blame for their fallout.

Children have so much to offer, but as children. Not as the answer to our needs. We are responsible for their welfare, their education, their well-being. Children depend on us to take care of them, not the other way around. We, as adults, need to have our adult needs met by other adults.

Let the children be children. They don’t exist for you. When they become adults, they will be as responsible to you as the principles they live by, but until then, we as adults, need to take care of them, and not expect it to be the other way around.

About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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  • raoel43 says:

    All so very true..If we decide to have a child, then it should be apparent, we must change our lives accordingly, to care for them, as we should—far too many put their own career’s and desire, ahead of the children. And so “”others”” in daycare or other family members raise them, and the ”barriers” arise, and people wonder why children grow into their own separate world, and have so many emotional problems.
    If Parents want children, they need to succumb to the fact—once a child enters the home and family, the “singles” and “couples” lifestyle changes and the needs and responsibilities thereof

  • I just wrote a comment that’s as long as a post! Man, I’m wordy. I think I’ll save that for later, but I just wanted to say that I do agree, parental responsibility is important. I don’t think it’s the daycares though. Though I do think, given a preference, parents or family members, are generally better than strangers, no matter how nice. But daycares are a necessity for many people, and then some are just suited better to be at-home parents than others, while both can be great parents.

    Despite one’s circumstances, I think the most important thing is to make your child feel seen, heard and valued. If you can do that, whether your child has to go to daycare or any other full time institution, like public or private school or have the experience of growing at home and alternative social settings such as home school, they will be able to adapt to whatever comes their way.

    But yes, we need to accept the fact, that children aren’t an “addition” to the family or to your life, like a new room. Their entry into your life is an alchemy that changes and transforms everything – *everything*.

  • raoel43 says:

    I was not meaning I am against “daycare” just the “mindset” that it can replace the true loving care and quality time with a parent, and the overuse of the facilities. I have seen so many babysitters be a “substitute” for the parenting…even on days off, and I believe the daycare can become a “usable” substitute by people who are ”too busy”, and often harried by life and its demands. Executives mostly have a 9-5 routine–but others are often caught in mixed schedules with sometimes extended hours.
    I think there has to be a guideline of some common sense—somewhere.
    A limit bestowed on how much a parent’s career or work, control the absence of the parent. This is my concern.
    Some do very well at juggling—work and homelife and outside recreation, Others however seem to utilize the services far too often, and even though the child is properly cared for, the important interaction between parent and child is lost in the weekly shuffle of social activities and work, making a child feel so unwanted, and alone, even though, they are not__being ”physically” left alone.

  • Oh, yes, there are those who use daycare, babysitters and nannies or whatever as stand-ins, and even if the physical needs are met, there is definitely something missing. I have really come to appreciate how important the mothers and fathers are. Most of the time, it’s a biological relationship, but I understand not always. Adoptive parents and then parent figures, when biological or adoptive falls short, are crucial to a child’s wellbeing. But that’s a very different role than the nice preschool teacher or babysitter – important and as big an impact as they can have.

    And I agree, the workforce/industry isn’t very family friendly. Women have been traditionally discriminated against in the workforce because of their family responsibilities and fathers are seen as not having any other than bringing home the paycheck, so there’s little consideration for his time with the kids.

    This is another case of sacrificing long term gain for immediate gain/profit.

    But when we don’t take care of our children, society always winds up paying.

    Thanks for this discussion, raoel43 🙂

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