It happens to all parents at some point: You suddenly realize your children and their myriad wants and needs aren’t really that important after all – that these soul-sucking creatures have actually been holding you back from achieving your dreams and reaching your untapped potential.
Gen Y. and Millennial parents can blame their own folks for this. After all, it was their parents’ constant cuddling, mandatory participation trophies, and flat-out lies about their children’s God-given abilities that created a world of delusional wannabe celebrities who believe every thought that passes through their self-obsessed brains should be displayed on social media for all the world to enjoy.
It doesn’t matter why your kids will never be your top priority, the important thing is how you let your little ones know they’ll always play second fiddle to you.
Here’s how to painlessly, but effectively tell your children their needs will always take a backseat to your dreams:
By nature, children are resilient. But much like innocence and hope, children lose a little bit of that resiliency with each passing year. That’s why it’s so important to let your kids know you’ll be missing countless soccer games and ballet recitals to focus on your own selfish pursuits while they’re still young enough to bounce back – ideally when they still believe in Santa Claus.
If you do reach your kids at the sweet spot – too young to see what a garbage human being you are, but old enough to understand the situation – they may even become your biggest supporters. And a supportive family is the type of backstory that plays very, very well on shows like “American Idol,” “The Voice,” and “Poland’s Got Talent.”
On the other hand, if you wait too long (i.e., until they’re teenagers), not only will they fail to support your dream, they may also impede your progress – especially if they’re Goth. True, regardless of when you tell them, your children are eventually going to need lots of therapy. But by the time that happens, you’ll probably be long dead from all the drugs and alcohol you abused chasing a silly dream that never panned out.
When I was seven, my mom looked me right in the eye and said:
“Jared, I’m going to be the first female WWF (Now WWE) wrestler from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and in order to do that, I’m going to have to make sacrifices. That means wrestling will always come first. Whenever I have to choose between wrestling and you, I’m going to the choose wrestling. The sooner you understand this, the easier life is going to be for everyone.”
Harsh, right? Not for me. Whenever, I think of my mom’s confession, I feel happy. And that’s because, before essentially walking out of my life for 14 long years, she bought me a brand new He-Man action figure (Moss Man) and indulged me in whatever I wanted at the normally forbidden McDonald’s.
I still have a clear memory of playing with Moss Man and devouring my first Big Mac while my mom drank her protein shakes and sketched out ideas for her wrestling character on my coloring placemat.
It’s okay to level with your children about how unlikely it is you’ll ever achieve your goals, but again, it’s all about how you convey the information. Ask them: Would you rather have a happy-but-completely-absent-parent or a miserable, unfair one who can’t even look at his kids’ smiling faces without lamenting the life he had to give up to care for them?
Let your children know that, although it’s a long shot, your dream could lead to disgusting amounts of money for the entire family. Then, remind your children that money buys stuff, and stuff brings happiness. Therefore, the more money you have, the more stuff you can buy, and the happier you’ll be.
It also helps to use real-life examples here. For instance, you may want to share the story of the Wiggles. Before dedicating their lives to children’s music, the founding members were a bunch of family men with dead-end jobs who performed every other Saturday at whatever the Australian version of a VFW is.
Now the band is so successful that all of the Wiggles’ children have their own personal islands.
There are many wonderful, insightful articles on this fine website. This isn’t one of them. If any of the above nonsense sounded logical, if you considered – even for a moment – taking parenting advice from a dude who wrote “Dear Baby, I Hate You (A Letter From the Family Dog)”, then I suggest stepping back and taking a breath.
You may be so focused on reading every single informative how-to parenting article that you’ve become unable to recognize silly, mindless humor. If that’s the case, you may need to take some time to focus on you and your needs and, hell, even your dreams.