I would die for you, but you can€™t have my last chocolate
Every parent has that momma bear instinct. Especially moms. That feeling that kicks in when someone threatens your child. When that snot-nosed little brat on the playground pushes your child to the ground and they come to you in tears, or when the coach doesn€™t choose them for the A Team, or when a stranger bumps into them in the supermarket and then gives them that filthy look as if they were the one at fault€¦you know the feeling. And it€™s perfectly ok.
But what about when they want your dinner? Or that last piece of chocolate you have been saving for a quiet moment when you can sit down with a magazine and a cup of coffee and really savour some me time? Does your momma bear instinct kick in then too and you give it up for your precious cub?
I should hope not.
I am finding more and more moms today who are feeling lost. Who are depressed and feel invisible. It€™s a problem, and one that is getting more serious daily. But I believe I know the answer. Momma Bear Syndrome.
Momma Bear Syndrome is a double edged sword. While it is a very normal and necessary instinct, I think people are not using it appropriately. Moms, listen carefully. When you need to protect your child, in a way that they are unable to, then by all means give in to that drive. But if it is not a case of defending your cub, then do not. You need boundaries. You need €˜me time€™. You need to be able to enjoy your dinner without them feeling they can raid it at will and you will just get by on the leftovers.
Let€™s think about this for a minute. What message are you conveying if you are allowing them to take what is rightfully yours. You are telling them that they come first in your life. And ultimately that one day they should allow their own child to rule the roost. Let€™s project that a little further, and what is the result? Entitlement. Children today have an inflated sense of entitlement. They believe you owe them €“ pocket money, iPads, your dinner, your last piece of chocolate, your time to the detriment of your own sanity.
Stop it. Hold on to your dinner. Your personal space. Your me time. Your sanity. Children need boundaries. They need to know that while you love them unconditionally, you are still allowed to be you. You do not, upon becoming a mother, suddenly lose all rights to being you.
Momma Bear Syndrome is killing momma€™s spirit. Moms are lost, feeling invisible, frustrated. Just the other day I coached a mom who said she doesn€™t know who she is anymore, other than mommy. And the worst part is when you feel like that, you resent being mommy, and then feel like a bad mommy to boot.
I firmly believe this is why. So stop it. Hang on to your selves. Keep interests or hobbies or work and time for yourself. Do not feel guilty about looking after yourself, or having boundaries. You may go to the loo without a child on your lap. You may eat what is on your plate without feeling you have to share it. You may enjoy that last piece of chocolate in peace.
It€™s time to reclaim your self. Guilt-free. It€™s time to realise that unless you allow them to stand on their own two feet, you are robbing your child of the ability to become an independent, accountable adult in society. You are also modelling to them that they are not allowed to ever fulfil their own needs, and ultimately, we will have a generation of lost and resentful souls. They will only understand instant gratification, they will believe the world owes them whatever they want whenever they want, and they will have no respect for others.
Momma Bear, it€™s time to draw that line in the sand. Your job is not to pander to their every desire. Your job is to empower them to stand on their own two feet, and to teach them to respect others, starting with their parents.
Momma Bear €“ unless you are looking after yourself, you are useless to your family. You will become lost. You will become resentful. You will become depressed. And then, when that terrifying wolf comes to attack your cub, you may not have enough energy to defend them when it counts. Or you may just be tempted to let them be eaten.