Episode #97 – “No one appreciates all the work I do.”
Question of the Day:
“No one appreciates all the work I do. I am so sick of giving, giving, giving and not getting any help or recognition in return. I have 3 capable kids and a competent husband and yet they still expect me to do everything for them. It makes me want to take off and let them fend for themselves for a week or two. What do you do, when no one appreciates what you do for them? Is a little gratitude too much to ask?”
Parent Educator Answer: What do you do, when no one appreciates you?
The rule of thumb when parenting kids, is to never do for them what they are capable of doing for themselves. When you encourage your kids to manage their own lives– personal care, cooking, cleaning, school work, leisure activities, etc.– it helps them build confidence, independence, and self-belief.
When a parent does too much for their children, we rob them of the opportunity to develop competence and confidence. This is called over-functioning.
It is common in today’s parenting culture to believe the job of mom is to keep kids from failing or experiencing any sort of negative emotion. However this creates a learned helplessness in our children, where they stop trying to do things for themselves. If your child is waiting for mom to do things for them, that developmentally they are capable of doing for themselves, it is important to interrupt this habit ASAP.
- Is it hard for you to watch your child struggle?
- Do you like to step in with advice instead of letting your kid figure it out on their own?
- Is it more fun to help your kids accomplish their goals than for you to work towards yours?
- Does your family see you as reliable, available, and together?
- Do you feel responsible for your teen’s mood, decisions, school work, and social life?
These are signs you may be a codependent caretaker, an over-functioning parent, or a Supermom who is ready for change.
We see our kids struggling and think, I can solve that problem. I can help them. They need me. So we step in and take over. We see a messy house and think, I could clean that up so fast. It feels good. We feel needed, valuable, and competent.
But our kids DO NOT feel needed, valuable, and competent. They feel incompetent, not needed, and invaluable. YOU are so capable that your teen feels INCAPABLE in comparison. They start to see themselves as useless, powerless, and helpless needing mom to solve their problems for them.
The good news is Michelle’s higher self is functioning perfectly. It’s trying to get her attention with resentment and this desire to take off for a week so her family will miss her. All she needs to do is obey her higher self. Take off for a week. Go have fun with some girlfriends. Stop giving and doing so much and let her family fend for themselves. Start focusing on herself instead of trying to solve all her kids’ problems. Show appreciation for herself by doing the things she enjoys the most. Easy-peasy, right?
Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from focusing on ourselves and letting our family step up and take over?
What gets in our way from focusing on ourselves and letting our family step up and take over?
We like to feel needed. We just spent the last 12-15 years feeling valued for taking care of our children. If we just stop doing things our children are capable of doing, how will we feel valued? We have learned to equate being needed, solving problems, and helping with feeling like a valuable human. This is not an easy thing to give up simply because our kid had another birthday.
In order to let go, walk away, and let our kids muddle through….we’ve got to think a thought like, “They’ll be fine without me” or “They don’t need me.” For some moms, these thoughts are freeing. For some Supermoms, they can be terrifying.
It brings up the questions: Who am I if nobody needs me? Who am I if I’m not mom?
The answers to these questions terrify us after spending more than a decade building our identity around being a mom. It might feel uncomfortable, or scary, or empty, but if you can allow yourself to sit with those feelings now, not only will you grow more capable, competent young adults, but it will make the empty nest much less daunting.
Recognize that your value as a human does not come from people being dependent on you. Your value as a human is non-negotiable. You have value simply because you have air in your lungs and blood in your body. If a quadrapalegic can’t take care of himself, let alone anyone else, that doesn’t mean he is value-less. Your grandmother may be too old to care for others, but she is still a valuable human. Nobody is dependent on your dog or cat, but they still have worth.
The idea that you have value BECAUSE you are needed is something you made up that was never really true.
Think about this way, your teenagers are going through the same identity crisis as you are.
They are trying to figure out: “Who am I if I’m not dependent on mom?Who am I as an independent teenager instead of a dependent kid?Who do I want to be in the future?”
You are doing the same. Trying to figure out what your future will look like without a dependent kid. Wondering, “Who am I when no one needs me?” and “Who do I want to be in the future?”
Identity crises are not smooth and easy transitions. It’s a messy stage that involves grief and letting go of the past. It’s a lot of “two steps forward, one step back” type growth and it happens much more quickly and efficiently with a supportive group of people going through the same thing at the same time.
This is why I created the Leading Your Teen coaching program. I wanted moms to feel like they were surrounded by people who get it. A place where you could learn some concrete coping skills for making life with teenagers more enjoyable while also learning to focus on YOU and what you want.
My Leading Your Teen coaching program will help you be the mom you want to be while raising a teenager. If you want to feel appreciated, you can create that. Instead of waiting for your family to behave for you to feel good, you get to start feeling good today. You’ll get practical parenting tips for raising happy teens, compassion and support, and a vision of your future you can be excited about.
Go to www.leadingyourteen.com
Supermom Kryptonite – Giving to Get
A secret, invisible energy drain Supermoms might not know is making them tired is something I call “Giving to Get.” Michelle might be giving SO THAT she can GET the feeling of appreciation. This is today’s kryptonite because it leaves us feeling frustrated when it doesn’t work. SOMETIMES it works! We cut flowers from our garden and give them to the neighbors and they seem so pleased and grateful! This fuels us. We love feeling like we made someone else’s day. We love making them happy. So we give again. We look for more things to give them. Eventually, they don’t seem so pleased and grateful. This random reinforcement hooks us in like a slot machine that is going to pay out a big win at any moment. We give and give, hoping to get the good feeling back, getting annoyed and frustrated when we don’t get it.
The same thing can happen to a mom giving to her family. We give and give when they are little. We feel loved, valued and appreciated. Eventually, they get used to us giving. They start to expect it. They get frustrated and annoyed when they don’t get what they expect. This hooks them in with the random reinforcement. Instead of encouraging their independence, we have subconsciously turned it into an addictive game. They tap into our fears of “Who am I if I’m not caring for my family?” Everyone feels powerless.
Instead of “giving to get,” moms need to “give from a full cup.” When mom is doing a fabulous job of self care and self appreciation, she can give from a place of abundance. She can take care of her family from love and generosity because she has extra to give.
Supermom Power Boost – Self Appreciation
If you want to feel appreciated the simplest way is to give that to yourself. Say, “I appreciate myself.I like who I am as a mother to teenagers.I value the work I do for them.”
If that’s not enough for you, you might need to tune into yourself a little deeper. One way to appreciate yourself is to know yourself.
Let’s take the thought, “Nobody needs me.” Depending on your personality and stage of life, this thought could be freeing and exciting, or terrifying and depressing. If it gives you a feeling of dread, then don’t think it. Even if your kids are independent and capable, change it to something more aligned with your innate need to be needed.
Perhaps asking, “I wonder who needs me today?” would feel more inspiring and give you ideas on who to reach out to.
A thought like, “People are waiting for me to show them what I have to offer” could be a nudge of motivation towards putting yourself out there in a bigger way.
“My kids need me to set an example of conquering fears and trying new things” could be just the thought you need to help you focus on yourself and take actions towards your goals.
Quote of the Day:
“If they don’t appreciate your presence, perhaps you should try giving them your absence.” Tinku Razoria