Prior Commitments vs.
Commitment To Children
By Frank Kermit
Having children is likely one of the biggest life changing events human beings can experience.
It is more than just adopting a new title of parent. It is a change in a mindset. A new filter has been added which every decision you will ever make from this point forward will be challenged with.
The filter is to ask the question:
Is this in the best interest of my kid/s?
In some cases the answer is very straightforward.
In other cases, the answer may be dependent on things such as the likelihood that whatever being discussed works out, and the risks involved if it does not.
Child-free folks only risk their own well being, and if something goes wrong, tend to be ready to accept those risks and work to bounce back. Security can become very important to new parents who previously may have been a little reckless in the past, because it is one thing to takes risks where a person suffers the consequences as adults, and they are the only ones to suffer.
It is quite another situation when the people to suffer the consequences of your bad decisions are young children that are completely dependent on you for mere survival.
Is it better to work more hours and spend less time at home, but to have financial resources available to the family? It depends on the context of if it would be in the best interest of your kids.
Is it better to live in a small apartment in the city with direct access to amenities, schools, hospitals or aim to live in a larger home in the country with an acre of yard space, but commute longer for school and work? Again, it all depends on the context of if it would be in the best interest of your kids.
As parents, sometimes the most we can do is to do our best to give our kids what we believe would give them a strong start in life, and if it does not work out, deal with it as the situation merits.
Did you make a commitment to a pet before you had a child? Well you may have to reconsider keeping it if the pet is a danger to the health of your child.
It could be that your child ends up being allergic to your pet. In some cases the pet is not accepting of the new child, and there are cases of pets attacking new children.
Did you make career promises to your employer to take on a project or new branch of the business before you had a child? You may find that you are unable to stay on with that commitment because your priorities have changed due to having children.
In my professional life as well as in my personal social circles, I even see men who did not even know they were fathers suddenly find out they have children somewhere in the world that were kept hidden from them. After a DNA test confirms they do in fact have children in the world, life changes.
Any plans they made previously had to be reviewed and likely altered to accommodate these children who, without warning, became a top priority.
So any plans to travel, retraining for new career, invest or even current relationship partners and family planning goals can all become secondary, delayed or even shelved permanently.
Bottom line is that the kids come first.
For some people, there can be a lot of internal conflict about what is the right thing to do because on the one hand, they want to be individuals of their word and stick with the previously made commitments.
On the other hand, they have an obligation to their children (even during pregnancy), which seems to be at odds with their self-identity of a person that maintains commitment.
For the record, when such an ordeal enters my office, the stand I take in my practice is always that the kids come first. It can at times be considered an unpopular or old fashion ideal to some, but that does not deter me.
I would rather encourage parents to put the best interests of their children first than to encourage parents to focus on themselves. I do not want children to run the risk of being neglected, targets for abusers and ultimately therapy patients in the future.
There is a cost to making your kids your main focus while those kids are growing up.
However, I ask that you trust me when I tell you; there is an even higher cost for you in the future (once those kids are grown with kids of their own) if you do not.
FRANK KERMIT MA
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