So there has been big uproar this week because a Mum announced that if her children died she would be upset, but would be OK, whereas if her husband died, it would be much worse. Do you love your children or husband more?
I was always really worried about this before I had children, especially in the early years with David, where we had what is termed a ‘co-dependent’ relationship. Imagine 2 circles and place them pretty much on top of each other; thats what we were like. I remember reading the Dalai Lama’s book ‘The Art of Happiness’, where he thoroughly discouraged people to behave like that and instead become independent, but together, which really concerned me at the time. As it happens, we managed to make the shift to a happily together & independent relationship, by surviving some tricky times (to be expected after 20yrs together), and I can totally see what the Dalai Lama was talking about now.
So, loving children or husband more? To be honest, for me it would feel as though someone had ripped a piece of my soul out if my son died. However, although I generally follow ‘attachment parenting’, I do feel that now that Max is 3, I’ve got a healthy balance between the two. Maybe just tipped in towards Max, which I suspect is normal when your child is so young.
I would personally always recommend a balanced approach i.e. ‘everything in moderation’. So not being too reliant on either your partner or your child. However, I don’t think the other options are ‘bad’.
For a child with a parent who is more focussed on their partner, there are clearly some pros. They wont feel a heavy responsibility towards their parents, or that suffocating feeling when you know that your parent is living their lives through you. But they may forever search for a relationship where someone puts them first and considers them the most important thing forever, just as their parents did. Which might be very difficult to find, and lead to them being dissatisfied with their relationships in the future.
A child with parents who always put them first, will have incredible security, to know that there is always someone who loves them and puts them first. However, it can go wrong when the parent becomes martyred and resentful because they have over-given, leading to expectations on their behalf as to what the children will do in return.
So, I don’t think that either option will ‘ruin’ the children. But they will create things that the child thinks is missing. They might see that as painful, but it will give them direction and purpose in life – thats what ‘missing stuff’ does. However, for the parent, it is more ideal to balance their dependence on either their partner or children. I’ll write more about ‘healthy’ relationships soon!