Self care? Isn't that selfish?

t’s so easy to advocate or see value in others, especially our children. But what about ourselves? Do we not value ourselves in the same way? Is it arrogant to do so?

What about the impression we are leaving on our kids about self worth? Did you know that the way we treat ourselves will indirectly have a HUGE impact on the way our kids start treating themselves? My mother taught me to be a servant. To focus on others feelings, to give to the needy, and to love our “neighbor” as ourselves.” But what started happening is that I started loving my neighbor OVER myself. My mom is a huge servant of others, but as I got older I realized that she has a hard time pouring into her self. Did I subconsciously learn that to self care is to be selfish? I’m not sure…

Can I be selfish? Ask my husband?! Yes of course I can. But there is a difference between being selfish and treating yourself with value. I started letting people take advantage of me, I let people disrespect me, I let people define me! The only way I knew to stand up for myself was by getting angry and using my anger in an inappropriate way to fuel my words and actions. But this expression of thoughts and behavior just left me embarrassed and without my goal being met.

So why is it so easy for me to be able to provide wisdom, strength and advocacy for others, but feel in adept when put in the same situation myself? Maybe it was modeling, maybe it’s genetics, or maybe my environment produced it? Regardless, I do know that I am modeling this for my own children, and I see it in other parents I counsel.

Parents come to me and beg to know why their beloved children, whom they have loved, praised and nurtured, hate themselves? Parents want to know where they went wrong, what they can do to fix it. One of the first things I do is ask about how the parent is taking care of themselves? This takes the parents aback, “wait, I’m here for my child, not for myself!” I explain that our actions always have an audience. Children have watched us since they were infants, and mimic us as their standard of behavior.

So what model are we giving? When a dress doesn’t fit after the holidays, and we announce that we are fat and need to go on a diet. When a car cuts us off on the highway and we discuss the intelligence of the driver in question. When someone tells a crass joke or makes an obscene gesture and we laugh with them. When the computer doesn’t load fast enough and we start mumbling like the guy from “Office Space.” When you notice someone getting picked on, and you walk away because it’s not your business. All of these and more are conveying a message to our children about how we value ourselves, and others.

Self care and self worth are something that must be learned. For me, I’m still learning. I combat the idea that in order to be the best mom and wife I must put myself last; trying instead to believe that being the best mom and wife I need to take care of myself first, so that I have something to give to them.

What are some areas that you could start advocating for yourself or practicing self-care?

'Why do you love me?'

Why do you love me?

Micah, my 3 year old at that time, has been asking this question recently. I will say I love you, and he will look at me with head tilted and say, why do you love me? The first time he did this I laughed and said, “because your my baby!” But when he continued to ask I decided I would be more specific. So I started by saying things like, I love you because you are funny, because you are sweet to your sisters, you help mommy take care of baby carter, etc.

This question from little man reminded me that we all need to not only hear that we are loved, but told why we are loved. Yes, we intrinsically love our children because they are a part of us. But we also love aspects of the person they are. We need to start praising those aspects, mentioning them to others besides our child, and to encourage them in areas that they may not be as strong. We need to start praising their efforts instead of just the completion of something. We need to praise their honesty even when it’s not initially forthcoming. We should start talking about our children and spouses in positive ways to others instead of just focusing on the struggles. And we should hug, kiss, fist bump every day to maintain our physical bond that we developed at their birth.

This exercise challenges us to be intentional with our words, and to act out what we are saying. Let us make the words “I love you” have the impact it is suppose to make when said. Today, write out 4 things that you LOVE about your kids, your spouse, your friends, and whoever else means something to you. So when you have a moment to share how much you care you can be specific, and plant seeds of encouragement.

Why I burn Justin Bieber shirts!

Alright so I didn’t actually burn them, but I wanted it to sound dramatic! I only just threw them away. Which is hard for my hoarding, “but you can give it to goodwill for someone else” side. So let me just start from the beginning and why Mr Bieber along with all other pop stars, will not be worn via t-shirts, book bags, folders, posters, etc. at my house!

We live on an amazing street of 14 kids of similar ages, 8 of them being girls aged 5-9 who all play together all the time! And although that is awesome in itself because my kids have friends literally next door, I love that us mamas’ have similar convictions and practices of raising kids! My friend Jacque got a bag of girl clothes from a friend of hers. She went through it and gave the remaining items to my two daughters. When I got home from work, my husband had gone through the bag and there was a pile of clothes on the island ready to go into the trash. I grabbed the clothes instinctively and asked what was wrong with them. On further inspection I realized every piece of clothing in that pile had the huge smiling face of Justin Bieber. Ugh Gross! I shoved them into the trash to die a slow death of poopy diaper inhalation and “under the bed, week old sippy cup” curdle milk poisoning. Not a good way to go I would think. I confirmed with Jacque the next day that she intentionally left the Bieber clothes because she didn’t want her kids to wear them either! I love this street of Moms!

So why am I so anti-Bieber? Well, I’m not, not really. He obviously has some struggles, but who am I to judge? What I, my neighbor Jacque, and many other parents have a problem with is letting kids, big and small, girls and boys, OBJECTIFY & IDOLIZE others! We are unintentionally telling our kids at a young age they should have crushes, they should obsess about celebrities, and dress and act like the people in entertainment.

This is not to say that I will be putting my kids into a bubble to protect them from the big bad world. No, instead I will limit their access to items I deem unhealthy for their age and development. I will however, let them watch, hear or participate in activities that I feel do not represent my ideas and morals, but are an awesome opportunity to teach them about where our family stands.

For example, a show that we watch as a family is “Good Luck Charlie.” My husband and I enjoy the humor, and my kids like the physical comedy and playful story-lines. The Good Luck Charlie family do not always represent the morals I desire in my family, but the storyline’s allow me  to have a discussion about how we choose to live, compared to other families. The topic of frequent conversations is dating and relationships.  I tell my kids it will feel like EVERYONE else has a boyfriend or girlfriend, but we believe that dating is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner, and unless you are ready to get married then dating isn’t something to dabble in!  And thus my problem with Justin Bieber shirts have come full circle!!! Kids today see other kids, teens and even adults pinning over celebrities and story book characters. We are teaching this younger generation to objectify, idolize and distort what a healthy relationship looks like.

I am not looking to get into an argument, spend the time it would take to pull up the peer-reviewed articles that confirm my beliefs, or pull out my Licensed Mental Health Counselor Card, (because I have it on a 11 x 14 frame, it’s impractical to carry around!). I am just discussing a point of contention I personally have with raising my kids in this world, and one that I would caution any parent to discover their own beliefs on!