Why Putting Your Kids First at All Costs Is ‘Dangerous,’ Says Popular Mom Blogger

Beth Greenfield
Senior Writer
Rachel Hollis and son. (Photo: Facebook/Rachel Hollis)

A Facebook post about putting your kids first — unless it’s at the detriment of your own well-being — is being well received by readers, grateful to be reassured that they needn’t feel guilty for saving some time for themselves.

“‘I feel guilty.’ Is this the first thought that pops into [your] head when you leave your kids for any reason? It doesn’t matter if the reason is leaving to go to Target to get ‘whatever-kid-related-item-we’ve-run-out-of’ is for them. We still feel guilty,” writes popular L.A.-based lifestyle blogger, author, and mom of three Rachel Hollis in a Thursday Facebook post that’s been shared more than 50 times.

She continues: “I’ve come to a realization. Putting my kids as my first priority is great; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there is something inherently dangerous in putting them first at the detriment of my own well-being. Getting a manicure every other week because I need some me time shouldn’t feel like a sin. Going to get drinks with a group of girlfriends shouldn’t feel like some illicit activity. And for goodness sake, having a date night with my husband shouldn’t make me feel guilty, it should be a priority! Becoming a mom doesn’t mean that you have to lose all of who you were.”

Her post is resonating strongly with readers, who are writing thoughtful, passionate responses.

“I needed this,” one mom replied. “My husband and I are going on an adults-only vacation (5 days) for the first time in 7 years (our honeymoon) we are leaving our almost 6 1/2 year old (she has extra medical needs) and our 20-month-old with my in-laws. I know they will be fine, but I can’t help but keep worrying. We leave in Saturday and I still haven’t packed the kids because I am so worried.”

Another noted: “You can’t pour into someone else’s bucket if yours is empty!! We all need justification and reassurance sometimes — thank you for providing that!”

One mother shared that she is guilty often: “I needed to see this today! I am forever feeling guilty for leaving my kids. … I am a stay-home/homeschool mom, so they pretty much spend every minute with me. Even when my husband is home with them while I ‘run to the store’ I’m out and back so quickly. There’s rarely time just for myself to rejuvenate and feel human again. I need to get better at this!!”

Hollis, who writes on her website, The Chic Site, about topics from adoption and postpartum depression to shopping for beauty products and baking protein muffins, writes in her post about how she rarely even allows herself to browse in the women’s aisles of stores when she dashes in to buy baby clothes or products. “After all, there is a baby waiting at home for me. She needs me,” she writes. “Never mind that she actually, probably at that very moment, does not.”

She adds, “We all know that mom guilt exists. Everyone talks about it. The media often perpetuates it. It almost seems like if you’re not feeling guilty, you’re either lying, or you’re a ‘bad’ mom. But I think it’s time we turn conventional logic upside down. … How can you take care of someone else if you can’t take care of yourself first?”

Connecticut-based adolescent and family psychologist Barbara Greenberg strongly agrees with Hollis’s message. “When you go on a plane, they tell you if you’re the parent of a child, you should take the oxygen mask first — because if you don’t have enough oxygen or aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re not being the best parent,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. When you’re feeling fulfilled as a person, she adds, “you’re a lot less likely to be irritable and resentful with your children.”

And then there’s the matter of setting an example. “You are your children’s most important role model, above anyone else,” Greenberg says. “So if you are sacrificing your life, you give your kids the message that life is not worth living, because you’re willing to give it up for them.”

A lot of her teenage clients tell her they do not want to grow up to become adults because their parents make it look like a nightmare. “They make it look like you can’t have fun or take time for yourself, and it’s the wrong message to send children,” she stresses. “So a parent is not just about caring for their kids but about role-modeling about how life can be fulfilling as you grow older. If your kids see that you’re taking good care of yourself and speaking compassionately to yourself, they will follow suit.”

Plus, she notes, “Guilt just doesn’t serve a very good purpose.”

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