More than just a Mum: the Consequences of Neglecting Self in Child-Raising

Pam Maroney
5 min readSep 9, 2023
Have you lost sight of who you are? Ever wondered at times ‘is there more to life than just being a mum?’ Photo by Benjamin Manley on Unsplash

We all understand that profound, unyielding love you have for your children — that unconditional devotion that has you ready to move mountains for them without a second thought.

But let’s be real here — often we crave a moment of respite from the relentless routine of parenting. I’m sure at times you’d willingly give your left arm just to escape one more school birthday party, dodge another round of kiddie tunes, or magically make that never-ending laundry pile disappear.

In a blog we wrote a couple of years ago, we discussed how constantly prioritising our children’s needs above our own can inadvertently lead to unhappiness. Today, we’re revisiting this important topic, to explore how we can strike a balance between nurturing our children and nurturing ourselves.

The Myth of Non-Stop Sacrifice:

Yes, parenting means looking out for your children’s needs first, but it doesn’t mean you should neglect your own needs. Continuously putting your kids above everything else can feel like running a marathon with no finish line, leaving you gasping for air. Do you feel like this is you?

Whilst constantly chasing after your little ones is a noble and necessary aspect of parenting, by doing this it can lead you to then losing yourself in the process. It’s essential to remember that you are more than just a mum! You have an identity, dreams, and passions that extend beyond your role as a mum.

When we lose sight of our individuality and become consumed solely by our parental responsibilities, we risk sacrificing our own fulfillment. This self-neglect can lead to feeling resentful, which, in turn, can affect our relationships, including the one with our children. If this sounds like this could be happening to you, it might be time to rethink your parenting strategy.

The Pressure of Perfection:

We all know the pressure to be the perfect parent, thanks to those seemingly flawless Instagram and Facebook posts. You see other parents doing all sorts of amazing things with their kids, and you can’t help but compare. “Should I be doing more? Are my kids missing out?” I mean why didn’t you make a 3-tier birthday cake for your child’s birthday party that had a surprise kitten jump out from the middle of it that your child had wished for, in amongst a pristinely clean house, with well organised and exciting activities for perfectly behaved kids, that didn’t end in tears, whilst your neatly manicured hair, nails and designer clothes stayed remarkably intact all day!?

Many of us feel compelled to be perfect parents, driven by societal pressures and the constant comparisons we tend to do. This self-imposed pressure can lead to guilt and anxiety when we perceive ourselves as falling short of these unrealistic standards.

Finding a New Perspective:

Family therapist David Code, the author of “To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First,” suggests that overly child-centred families can result in exhausted parents and entitled children. The prevailing myth that more attention equates to better outcomes for children is, in fact, doing them more harm than good.

Of course, there will be moments when our children’s needs must take precedence. However, it’s vital to recognise that continuous self-sacrifice can stifle our own growth and lead to dissatisfaction in our lives.

So, is there a way to break free from the cycle of constant sacrifice and find a healthier balance between parenting and self-discovery? The answer lies in redirecting our focus.

The Path to a Happier You:

A key step in the process of shifting your focus so that you can live a more meaningful life and raise healthier children, is by identifying your core values and aligning your actions with them.

Values are like your life’s guiding stars, showing you how you want to be and what you stand for. Think of them as the secret ingredient to finding your own happiness. Some common values include compassion, courage, adventure, creativity, and self-care.

To discover what your values might be, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • What makes my heart leap with joy?
  • What kind of person do I aspire to be?
  • Who do I want to be when I grow up (yes, even if you’re already a grown-up)?
  • What kind of relationships do I want to have?
  • If I had a magic wand, what would I be doing right now?

By exploring the answers to these questions, you can start to see what values may be underlying your responses. And once you have identified your values, you can start to take small steps to align your actions with them. For instance, if creativity is a core value, how can you incorporate more artistic endeavours or get more creative in your everyday life? If courage is a value, then how might you act and behave in certain situations to align with being more courageous? If being adventurous is a value you wish to align with, are there small adventures you can go on either in your local neighbourhood or further from home? Or if being a compassionate person is how you wish to be in the world, then how can you behave in more compassionate ways towards yourself or others?

Emotionally Healthy Parents Raise Healthier Children:

So, if you’ve been living up to society’s parenting expectations or doing things that don’t align with your values, it’s time for a change and to run your own race. Clinical professor of psychiatry, Daniel J. Siegel, emphasises that emotionally healthy parents foster healthier children. By living in harmony with your own values, you’ll not only cultivate your own emotional wellbeing, but for your kids too. Plus you’ll provide your children with a powerful example of living authentically.

In conclusion,

we challenge you to embark on a journey of rediscovering yourself, where being a parent is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up the wonderfully complex, wonderful you!

About the Author:

Pam Maroney is the co-founder of a women’s mental wellbeing preventative service, Kemar Meaningful Directions, focused on empowering everyday women to build their mental resilience and reach their full potential in order to live a rich, satisfying and meaningful life.

Pam is an Occupational Therapist who has been working in the field of mental health for 20 years. Pam brings a vibrant, engaging and passionate energy to the work she does. She has a wealth of experience running mental health rehabilitation programs, is trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a University Teaching Associate, and a Clinical Academic with a number of published qualitative research papers.

To find out more about the programs offered at Kemar Meaningful Directions, go to www.kemar.com.au

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Pam Maroney

Pam is an occupational therapist, university teaching associate, published researcher, and co-founder of Kemar Meaningful Directions (mental wellbeing service)