Raising a child is an amazing thing to do, yet it is so easy to undervalue it at times.
As parents we know how important a role it is. We love our children so much and want the very best for them. But for many of us there can be those times when we lose touch with this fact. There are moments when the competing pressures of life get on top of us, maybe we are not achieving as much as we would like (or think we should) in the other realms of our lives because we are busy raising our children. Or we feel so stuck in the never ending tasks of family life that it feels we are not accomplishing much at all. It is these times that it is worth reminding ourselves how important being a parent is.
Before I go into this a bit deeper I think it is worth first considering some of the reasons that make it challenging at times to stay in touch with the value that we bring as parents.
Raising a child is not about one big task with a final outcome. Instead, it is made up of many small things that make it hard to see it as a whole. A day spent caring for a child can have no significant features to it despite being busy the whole time. It can be hard to know what we have actually done except been there for our children.
Our society’s ideas of value is based on a capitalist mindset. This has many advantages but one downside is that people are indirectly seen as commodities. The unspoken inference, in many parts of our society, is that what we produce or achieve gives us value. The money we earn/spend, the tasks we accomplish and the career we have are what makes us, in the eyes of society, successful. Based on this reckoning, we do not intrinsically have value for who we are and the quality of relationships that we have. Raising a child does not produce anything directly and although deep down we know that parenting is probably the most significant thing we will do in or lives, that sits at odds with the message from the society we live in. Of course, parenting a child is of a huge achievement. We have our children to show for it, but in a world where ‘success’ is everything, we can lose track of the value of parenting because of its vagueness.
There are also some aspects that are related specifically to women.
As raising children has traditionally been a female task, so has motherhood been undervalued (as have many things that women do). This is, thankfully, changing although the amount that it has altered is still up for discussion.
Also as a gender we tend to undervalue ourselves. Research has shown time and time again that women (compared to their male counter parts) have a tendency to doubt themselves more, expect more of themselves and feel that they are lacking in the necessary skills. The reasons for this are still being researched and they are bound to be a complex interaction of nature and nurture.
Acknowledging that what we do as mothers (and fathers) is of value is an important thing to do. The treadmill of running a family home with all that is involved in raising a child (soothing, cuddling, talking, kissing knees better, feeding, connecting, entertaining, explaining, redirecting) so easily hides the truth. As parents we are the most significant influence in our children’s lives. In those moments (ones where we don’t feel we are achieving very much) it is great to reconnect with the value we bring as parents: value to our children, ourselves and society as a whole. We are raising human beings to be a part of the world and what a wonderful thing that is.
So what is next?
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