I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it’s always been like this, but I have a hard time believing it.
Maybe it’s when technology started to advance giving us easier, more convenient lives, maybe it was when women joined the workforce and some men struggled to carry their weight at home.
I don’t know.
But at some point, child started to be seen as a burden.
A blessing – always a blessing and don’t you forget it – but still a burdenLet me explain…
As I research, and write, and talk all about Gentle Parenting I find that many parents face this involuntary challenge of having the mindset that children are a burden.
It’s not in the front of their minds, and it’s certainly not the language they might use to talk about their child, but it’s in their attitude.
When an adult believes that a child should be seen and not heard, or when they dread spending time with them, or they want the simplest, easiest route to discipline or diapering or sleep training they can begin to see their child as something that interferes with their otherwise streamlined life.
Parents struggle to be remolded as new parents. Struggle to see their child as a whole person. Struggle to put down selfish desires and completely take up the selfless challenge of motherhood – which doesn’t mean your child will run your life and that you will lose your freedom – but that you can give your child the best and love it too!
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Why this attitude that children are a burden?
I noticed this clear attitude when I was pregnant and many people treated my pregnancy like a sickness. People always ask me how I was feeling in a very sympathetic way assuming that I was doing horribly when in fact my pregnancy was wonderful. I know not all women have that experience, some have very difficult pregnancies, but many women also have very smooth and enjoyable pregnancies. Even with the difficulty of heartburn or swollen ankles a mother can still be excited about the life that she’s bringing into this world.
I found it very discouraging when people would treat me like a sick patient. I knew that the people talking to me meant well, but there was always this attitude that a baby was a burden. I don’t know how many times people told me while I was pregnant “Wait until you’re up all night, enjoy your sleep now.” they made it seem as if I have horrible things to look forward to.
It’s like they were giving me a bad attitude about staying up all night with a baby before I even had a baby.
But my baby wasn’t going to be a burden, that’s what I told myself.
Because some of the best advice I ever got was from a friend of mine who already had two children before my first was born. She had extremely difficult pregnancies, like life threatening to both her and the baby. Trust me, she could have had a bad attitude about having newborn if she wanted to. She had gone through an excruciating, fearful 9 months which ended in an emergency C-section. She definitely could have had a bad attitude when her newborn came into the world.
But she didn’t.
The advice that she gave me, was simply to choose not to have a bad attitude about the things that were difficult.
When she was up in the middle of the night nursing her baby she chose not to be annoyed by it, when her baby was crying and she couldn’t get him to stop she chose not to be annoyed by it. And in the end I have seen that she does not have a bad attitude about her children, she now has three and she does not act like they are a burden. Of course having three children is a lot of work, especially since they are all very young, but she joyfully takes on her work as a mother while also taking care of herself. She is a wonderful example of having a good attitude not only in words but also in actions.
So many parents don’t have this attitude though
Because they’re told otherwise by those around them. I noticed this is especially with older parents, parents who maybe don’t remember how wonderful it was or maybe they just don’t remember anything and they’re trying to make conversation. I don’t know.
I think it also has to do with our culture today, Western culture wants convenience, it wants speed, for everything to be on time exactly how we want it. And our culture is one that says “me me me.”
Now I know that’s not the case with everyone, not everyone can say that yes they really are a selfish person, but being selfish has been ingrained into our culture.
We are taught from a young age to look out for ourselves, to do things for ourselves. We have lost a sense of community, of family. Times have changed, and it’s very hard for people to adjust to being part of a family unit instead of a lone wolf. This makes it difficult to be in a marriage as you begin to look out for one another, and difficult once you have a child.
In today’s culture, at least in the west, women have been liberated from their very restricting gender roles, or at least for the most part. Women know that they can study, work, try new things, be anyone that they want to be, they do not have to be restrained to the titles of wife and mother. So I think it’s very understandable that women are given this attitude of selfishness when it comes to caring for their children, even the mothers who choose to be stay-at-home moms.
Our culture tells us to look after me me me.
So when the baby cries at night, our first thought might be to think how about the baby is affecting our sleep, and not how our loving actions can help them to sleep better.
I’m not saying that mothers have to be this all self-sacrificing image, but there needs to be a balance between meeting our own needs in meeting our child’s without feeling that it is a burden to do so.
Sure, when the baby wakes up for the fifth time that night you might feel really exhausted and really tired and overwhelmed. This is a normal feeling to feel, because you really are exhausted there’s no denying that that’s how you feel, but by changing your attitude in that one small moment, it can help to change your attitude for a lifetime as a mother.
When your attitude starts to change, even by force, you will begin to react differently to the situations that used to bother you.
When the diaper has a blowout, when the toddler spilled all their drink, when the child breaks your lamp, when the teenager is out all night, and any parenting situation where you struggle to see outside of your own self, and into the eyes of your child who needs your help. You will not see your child as a burden, the situation might be difficult, but you can tackle it with a positive attitude because that’s how you’ve trained your brain from the beginning.
Because despite what the world around you might be telling you, your child is not a burden.
These are things that mothers hear all the time that give them a bad attitude about children:
You won’t get any sleep when that baby comes.
Wait until they’re walking you’ll have to run around and chase them everywhere.
I would never have a baby, because then I would never have any free time.
Don’t become one of those moms who never talks to her friends after she has kids.
You can’t have nice things after you have kids.
Your husband won’t enjoy being intimate with you after you have a baby.
Your husband will never look at you the same after he was he seeing you give birth.
You will be so happy in 18 years after they move out.
You can’t go on any fun vacations after you have kids, you can only go on kid vacations.
Say goodbye to going out and staying up late now that you have kids.
Yes, it’s no wonder parents have a bad attitude about children if this is what they always hear. It’s easy to have a bad attitude about children because that’s what we’re surrounded with, if you want to have a good attitude about children it probably takes a conscious decision on your part.
It’s not easy to change our selfish attitude into one that operates as a family unit, but it is necessary for our long-term happiness, and our family’s.
You are more than just “mom”
I am not saying here, and I want you to hear this part very clearly, that you have to give up any of your interests, or hobbies or things that you enjoy, so that you can put every ounce of your energy into being a mom.
Being a good mom also means you need to take care of yourself, just check out my post here about self care for moms. A good mom knows how to lovingly care for her child, while also caring for herself, it’s a very delicate balance.
If you spend all of your energy on your children, you might actually be giving them too much. If you are constantly trying to keep them entertained and not making time for yourself it might actually stop them from learning how to be creative and doing things on their own. There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing
And on the other side, being cold and distant from your child or uninterested in the work of caring for them, then your bad attitude will make you feel miserable as a parent.
Parents with bad attitudes still do everything necessary to care for their child, they still feed them they still closed them they still discipline them, but they might see it all as a burdensome task. The parents will feel miserable, and so will the children.
So you need to find a balance in the middle, where you can care for your child joyfully in all areas necessary, even at times going above and beyond, but still knowing when you need to take a break and take care of yourself. This positive attitude about tackling the challenging parenting tasks combine with self-care and a life outside of motherhood, will create a very satisfied woman.
Because you are more than just a mother. Most of you reading this actually have spent more years of your life not as a mother then as a mother. Over the years of your life you gained a sense of self, you learned new skills, developed new interests. Before your child was born you knew who you are, you knew what makes you you, and these things do not go on the back burner once you take on the title of mom.
You are still all of those wonderful beautiful amazing things, those are all still very much a part of who you are you have the title of mom.
And you need to take every little bit of who you are, as a woman, and also as a mother and bring it into perfect harmony.
Because having children is not a burden, if you choose for it not to be
You will not lose your identity now that you’re a mom, if you proactively choose not to.
But there are so many new moms out there hearing that children are a burden from other parents. You have to choose not to listen to those things, you have to make an intentional choice not to fall prey to these bad attitudes that are infesting our culture.
And on the other side, you have to protect yourself from those who might tell you that it’s not good to want to be more than a mom. Those who might tell you it is your most high calling.
You are not a sell out to women’s rights to choose to be a stay-at-home-mom, and you’re not a sell out to your own children to choose to go to work because it keeps you like it.
So stop expecting the worst, or adopting the bad attitudes our culture has towards children and families, and embrace the joy of motherhood with the freedom of being yourself.
Motherhood is awesome, but womanhood even more so.