Martyrdom – when a mum (or dad) steps in on their child’s life too much, which prevents the child from living their own life and making their own mistakes. It can be the little things like stepping in to help too much or even to the point of providing too much for your child, preventing them from learning the value in hard work. It can start from when the child is very young.
The disadvantages of stepping in too much:
– your child can learn ‘learned helplessness’ when they figure Mum or Dad will do it for me (and this can carry into adolescence and adulthood)
– they may perceive they can’t do something well because the parent is helping them so much
– they may miss out on important lessons in life and the chance to problem solve themselves
– the PARENT can be stressed and low in energy from living too much of their child’s life
– the parent starts to lose ‘who they are’ as they are so engrossed in their child’s life
– martyrdom is linked with the pancreas and bitterness (as I found out at the recent emotional anatomy of yoga workshop I went to) which lets us know that this can affect our health if we take on martyrdom too much in our life
This is a big one and crops up in so many aspects of parenting that we have probably all stepped into this at one time or another. And remember, there is a clear difference between an ‘involved parent’ and one that is living in their child’s shoes a bit too much.
The ‘answer’ is to instead take on a teaching/encouraging role.
If you’d like a bit more information, you could check out ‘Are You a Mother or a Martyr? How Much is Too Much When “Doing” for Your Child?’ at Empowering Parents. But more importantly, why not take the time to reflect where you could step back from your child’s life…. and also how you can step into your own life more (think putting that energy into your own interests!).