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Surprising Science

Why Parents Should Put Themselves Before Their Children

Putting your adult needs first will help preserve your physical and mental longevity for those you care about most. Parents should be more attentive to how they feel and where they feel it. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Speaking recently on the radio program “Democracy Now,” physician Gabor Maté warned that the stress we put our bodies through can have a very real impact on our physical and mental health. “Maté says the majority of his patients have cheery dispositions, exhibit no observable anger, put everyone’s needs before their own and are usually extremely self-critical. These patients also have difficulty setting personal boundaries with others; it is very hard for them to say ‘no.'” These qualities are what too many adults associate with being good parents to their children. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Being a “good enough” parent, which means preserving sufficient self-compassion to fulfill your own adult needs, will help prolong your physical health and make you a better parent. To be a “good enough” parent, try eliminating should from your vocabulary, e.g. “I should stay up all night just to wash the dishes and do the laundry”; as mindfulness is a good way to take care of yourself, try to notice what you are feeling and where you are feeling it; consider what problems you can set aside until you’ve enjoyed life a little; and realize that self-care is not an indulgence but a way to preserve yourself for those who you care about most. 

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