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ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING: The Folly of Extreme Self-Sacrifice

The family has six children of young adult and mid adult ages, two are married and have kids of their own. All six finished college and were finicky on getting jobs. They want the easiest and maybe the most convenient by their standard. The eldest still ask for financial support even if both he and his wife are earning. The reason: They are not living within their means. The same is true with the other son. While the other siblings get jobs and quit when they feel a little difficulty or any inconvenience. Their behavior manifests a very low EQ or EI (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence).

What more, all of these people compete with one another, just like when one sibling was midway finishing a college degree, shifted to take another course, a pricey course. The other girl finished a course and started training and working in a corporate office in Makati. After three months she quit and asked her parents to send her to school for another course.

Monkey see, monkey do, the next child who finished one course, started working and after three months also decided to quit and enroll for another course. Inconspicuously, the father is heavily burdened and is the type who does not tell anyone of his dilemma. He was beforehand telling his close friends that he will finally be relieved of his burden if all six children will finish college. Alas, his burden continues no end up to this moment. Good if these people enroll for another course at their own expense. No, they go back to school at the father’s expense and burden the father extremely.

The family has only the father as breadwinner the mother is a plain housewife who does not even do what a modest housewife should do, like caring for the needs of the family, even with the basic. She is a lazy lot. House helpers cannot even endure staying with them for a month or two because aside from her “Senyora” ways, she also gossips with the other helpers that bring trouble to all.

The father, the man of stupid chivalry (as identified by Dr. Laura Schlessinger in her book 10 stupid things men do to mess up their lives) is such a patient, loving, tolerant and understanding spouse and father who does not know how to complain is an example of a completely emotionally and psychologically battered gentleman. Even when he is already in a difficult state at work and financially straits does not tell his family about it. All wife and children live like everything is just fine and their dad can afford all their whims and caprices, all their lazy behaviors and stupidity.

Unknowingly or maybe knowingly, or maybe we can give the benefit of the doubt, the father is one sacrificial lamb. The folly of extreme sacrifice or extreme self-sacrifice of parents for children has been the theme of many sentimental stories. In reality, however, extreme self-sacrifice of parents for children is nearly always destructive to the children’s growth. If a family is in difficulty, all should share in overcoming the difficulty. If a family is poor, the children must share the poverty with the parent. In this way, the children have the satisfaction of knowing that they, too, helped to overcome the difficulty in which the family found itself.

Not for this poor gentleman, he hides his own pain; he spares his family of the difficulty. Covering it up, pretending that all is well and will end well. Is this a manifestation of stupid machismo another stupid thing men do to mess up their lives as explained by Dr. Laura Schlessinger?

According to a family psychology expert, Dr. David Goodman, “The child nearly always retaliates against parents who patronize him by failing to co-operate their plans for his redemption. Many seemingly noble parents who have slaved and struggled to give their position are dismayed to discover that all their efforts lead to nothing but frustration. The children do not develop, do not profit from the parents’sacrifice. Extreme self-sacrifice is in reality twice cursed: The one who gives it, and curses the one who receives it. Generosity is only valid when it is sincere, not patronizing.

In particular, adolescent children must be allowed their individuality. At fourteen, children may be asked to do as they are told. As adolescence proceeds there must be tapering off of commands and increasing willingness to allow the child to stand on his own. How can we expect our children to become self-reliant if we insist on solving all their problems for them? As much as possible, whether it be money affairs or love affairs, the choice of a sweetheart or a career, we must let the adolescent finds his way. We must let him live and learn. It is far better that he makes mistakes on his own judgment than be always right on ours. Someday he won’t have us to help him. How will he solve his problems then?

“What is sadder than a grown-up person who is still a child-petulant, peevish, self-centered, always insisting that the game be played his way or not at all, always unwilling to assume responsibility and carry through.The number of these is large and increasing. Their infantile behavior is behind most of our social disasters.”

Never do for a child what a child can do for himself. Be friendly and affectionate but never be possessive in your love. Don’t raise a mama’s boy or a daddy’s girl.  They are doomed to marriage and perhaps in work as well. Praise, do not blame. Remember that strength is the charm of a man as charm is the strength of a woman, and raise your boys and girls accordingly.

When children speak, listen to them so they will also listen to us. Never interfere with what a child is doing unless it is dangerous or immoral. Don’t deny your child his attempts to begin. To make a reality of one’s dreams is life’s greatest satisfaction. Help your child to understand and live by the spiritual laws that govern life. Don’t depress your teenager’s aspiring romanticism by marital quarreling or by cynical talk about the opposite sex. Unless your child is happy in love, he won’t be happy at all. Make your home an attractive place to bring his friends. A teenager proud of his pleasant home won’t be likely to get into trouble away from your influence. Never interfere with your teenager’s choice of friends, especially of the opposite sex.

Only in friendships freely formed can your child learn how to handle people-one of the most valuable talents. Let him spend his allowance his own way and thus learn how to manage money. Dr. David Goodman a lecturer, counselor and writer of Columbia University noted. Financial expert Suze Orman even said that children should not be given allowances unless they work for it. Otherwise they can and will never appreciate the value of hard earned money.

“A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop “entitlement mentality” and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent’s efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel a sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the child instead?” (From a Facebook post)

“You can let your child live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day they will be old and will be gone. The most important thing is your child learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.” (From a Facebook blog)

We draw to ourselves the good of everything we appreciate, but the evil of everything we belittle. As we cultivate the use of our imagination, the great truth grows within us that people and things have value in proportion to how much we appreciate them, if we appreciate what we have, it always becomes more. If we belittle what we have, it always becomes less. This is probably the most useful law of the human mind.

A lot of us do not appreciate what we have unless we don’t have what we used to have anymore. The folly of extreme sacrifices of the parents, especially the father that was mentioned earlier must be well appreciated by the members of his family. And that father, the man that he is must also realize that his sacrifices will not result into something good for the children if he does not assert to let them experience the difficult, for them to appreciate the good effects of what endurance, tolerance, patience and hard work can give.

“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.” John Burroughs. But some just don’t give enough or even equally with what they ought to give to their loved ones and to the world as it is. Light and love!

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