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When You Have Nothing Left To Give

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Parent Coach for Moms of Teens: Fern Weis

Do you remember The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? Most parents love it. I read it to my kids only once.

This story is about a boy and the tree who loves him. He always needs something, up through old age, and she gives her all – leaves, branches, trunk until there is nothing left of her but a stump.

I have a real problem with this story and its message of endless, unreciprocated giving. The boy takes her for granted, never thanks her for her generosity, never asks about her. Never.

(My focus is on parenting, so feel free to modify the questions and suggestions to a relationship that’s more relevant to you i.e. partner, employer, etc.)

“If you continue to be the primary giver, you lose yourself..”

Ask Yourself:

  • Do you feel unappreciated? Resentful?
  • Who were you before kids? Would you like to find her again?
  • How can you focus on yourself again, without guilt?

Yes, when our children are very young, they require endless attention and protection. The self-reliance scale is at Child-0 and Mom-100. As they grow, the balance of self-reliance should be balancing out at 50-50, and ultimately tipping higher to the child.

If you continue to be the primary giver, you lose yourself, becoming more and more distanced from your real self. But a commitment to your family doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself. 

In fact, it’s the opposite.

Three Reasons That You And Your Needs Matter:

  1. Everyone remembers the airline warning to give yourself oxygen first. If you are depleted you can’t be your best for others or yourself.
  2. Balance? I’m not sure it exists if you think it means 50/50. Now consider what message your kids take in when you put everyone else first (especially them). They will have unrealistic expectations about their importance and how much they deserve. It will impact their relationships in a negative way.
  3. One day you’ll be an empty nester. Then what? If your life revolved around your kids, you’re going to have a difficult transition. This is your time for an adventure, a new career, hobby, whatever strikes your fancy. Take back your life!

“Let go of the belief that your children must be the focus of your life..”

Let Go:

Now is the time to take hold and let go. Let go of the belief that your children must be the focus of your life and it’s selfish to put yourself first. Take hold of a healthier combination of family, work, life and personal meaning; of nourishing your soul regularly. 

Sometimes giving less is actually giving more. Think about it.

P.S. – Take a look at the book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years by Ilchi Lee. He writes about the last third of our life potentially being the time of our greatest impact in the world and of experiencing our most meaningful life.

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Fern Weis

About the Author:

Fern Weis is a Parent Empowerment Coach for Moms of Teens and a Family Recovery Coach. She’s also a wife, former middle school teacher, and the parent of two adult children who taught her more about herself than she ever could have imagined.  

Fern partners with moms of teens and young adults, privately and in groups. She helps them grow their confidence to build strong relationships and emotionally healthier kids who become successful adults. She knows first-hand that when parents do the work, the possibilities for change are limitless; that it’s never too late to start; and you don’t have to do it alone. Learn more about Fern at www.fernweis.com.