Is Parenting Really a Sacrifice?

Posted on March 22, 2018

 

“I’ve sacrificed my whole life for my kids, and they still don’t appreciate me.”

“Parenthood has been one sacrifice after another. I’ve had to give up so much.”

“This is not a good deal! I’ve had to keep sacrificing, yet the family keeps asking for more. I have nothing more to give.”

In my parenting workshops and consultations, I’ve been hearing a lot of similar statements by parents. The word “sacrifice” is catching my attention a lot. Just last night, in a parenting consult, there was that word again! So as soon as it was over, I looked up the actual definition of the word “sacrifice.” Merriam-Webster.com supplied the perfect one with an example: “something given up or lost; the sacrifices made by parents.”

I couldn’t help but think about how this word really pertains to parenting. Yes, pre-parenting, this is what we enjoyed:

  1. We could get up and go wherever and whenever we wanted to. We didn’t have to look for babysitters or family caretakers.
  2. When we left the house, we traveled lightly. We only had to fend for ourselves.
  3. The house was quiet and organized.
  4. If there was no food in the house, we could eat four bags of chips and pop a can of Diet Coke or drive through McDonald’s.
  5. Our to-do lists were based on own needs, wishes, and desires.

I don’t need to go on and on. You get the drift, don’t you? Indeed we made big sacrifices when we had children. We have “given up” or “lost” our overall independence and our freedom. But let’s look at exactly what that means:

  1. We could get up and go wherever and whenever we wanted to. We didn’t have to look for babysitters or family caretakers.

We have given up self-centric behavior.

  1. When we left the house, we traveled lightly. We only had to fend for ourselves.

We have given up caring only for ourselves.

  1. The house was quiet and organized.

We have lost our need for perfection.

  1. If there was no food in the house, we could eat four bags of chips and pop a can of Diet Coke or drive through McDonalds.

We have given up bad eating habits.

  1. Our to-do lists were based on our own needs, wishes, and desires.

We have given up spending all our time on ourselves.

Isn’t it crazy that we call the growth that is inspired by the presence of our children a “sacrifice”? Have we really given up something or lost something without gaining something in return? Have we not grown to be better human beings—more caring, sharing, and dedicated. Haven’t we learned to how to let go and be healthier?

A sacrifice is one directional, but parenting is hardly that. What we consider a sacrifice is actually a golden opportunity for growth. If anything, we should be grateful for having our children in our lives. If it weren’t for them, we would be self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish human beings. Human beings are not designed to be stagnant and stuck. Our children bring change and evolution into our lives!

I know not everyone has children. For them, it’s important to stay inspired and motivated to grow, perhaps by being involved in arts, sports, or social events. As parents, however, growth comes organically simply by having kids and guiding them through this process called life.

So let’s do away with phrases like “I had to give something up.” Or “I had to sacrifice x,y, or z because of my kids.” Parenting is not a sacrifice. It is a truly fair exchange. For what you think you have sacrificed you are rewarded tenfold with growth. Most of all, you are rewarded a hundredfold with unconditional love, laughter, memories, and joy at your doorstep.

Parenting is not a sacrifice; it’s a trade-off. And it’s worth everything you trade.