The sacrifices you make as a parent – and the one you really shouldn’t

Being a parent is all about making sacrifices right? A might be happy giving up on a personal life, or my independence, but there is one thing I am NOT giving up. Read this post and discover the parenting sacrifice you really don't want to make.

Being a parent is all about making sacrifices, I understand that. My role as a mother defines so many aspects of my life – where I live, how I work and how I socialise. And as a single mother, my children also impact on my ability to form new, serious relationships. (At least that’s what I hope the issue is). It can be sad sometimes to see potential partners pass you by, but it is ultimately a sacrifice I am prepared to make.

I totally accept the restrictions of early motherhood. It is the choice you make when you become a parent after all and, as many teenagers, although not mine thank God, are fond of saying, they didn’t ask to be born. There are some areas of family life though where I don’t feel I should compromise or where I seem to revert to a childish competitiveness, not flattering in a parent. Board games for example. I know you are supposed to let young children win, or at least give them a chance, but I just can’t. I know it is The Wrong Attitude, but I don’t see the point in playing if you’re not playing to win. I used to try to hold back, but I couldn’t do it. I argue with myself that I am teaching them some kind of valuable life lesson, but deep down I know I am just being mean.

Another good example happened this morning. I had made the effort to get up 20 minutes earlier than usual, to try and avoid the stress of needing to leave for school, but having a child only half way through a bowl of porridge. My teen though had apparently got up 20 minutes later than usual, and was in rather a flap. “I don’t have time to wash the bread knife,” she announced loudly as she charged into my room at 8.15am, “so I can’t have any lunch today. Now have you seen my scarf?”

After watching her spend a good five minutes looking for the clearly crucial scarf, and with much stomping and sighing along the way, I glanced up to see her about to leave with my waterproof coat. “Hey!” I cried. “What are you doing?”

“I can’t find my coat,” she said, looking at me with palpable disdain.

“Well you can’t take mine,” I said. “I have to walk to school too you know.”

“Great! So what am I supposed to do then?” she shrieked.

“Why don’t you wear your other coat and a hat?” I offered.

“A HAT?” she spat back, as though I had deliberately made up the word just to annoy her. “I don’t have a hat.”

I know this to be a lie, and made moves to find one for her, but by this point she was too cross to reason with. “Don’t bother,” she said, “I’ll just get soaked.” Reinforcing her point, she took her school bag out of the waterproof one I had put it in, and stepped out into the pouring rain.

Sacrifice my career and love life? Sure. Just don’t ask me to give up my coat.



  1. 22 January, 2010 / 11:38 am

    Quite right. And I’m with you on the not letting them win all the time. My Boy Two is a dirty rotten cheat too so I can’t let him get away with it.

  2. 22 January, 2010 / 1:08 pm

    Great read. Absolutely right, hang on to your coat, the rest is enough of a sacrifice. … the coat would probably last longer too :-)

    • 22 January, 2010 / 1:13 pm

      The coat is generally much more reliable than the teenager… :-)

  3. 22 January, 2010 / 1:31 pm

    Absolutely! There are some things we simply can’t give up. I was thinking, in the time it took to find the coat, the bread knife could have been washed and sparkling!!! Have a great day and don’t get wet.

    CJ xx

  4. 22 January, 2010 / 3:16 pm

    I don’t really let them win at board games (make that bored games) but they do win because I don’t give a toss if I win so don’t try hard ….actually I have always been pretty poor at board games with the possible exception of scrabble
    Thank you you’ve made me feel better about being a Slacker Parent – evidently I am doing something good without really trying …result

  5. teachermum
    22 January, 2010 / 7:08 pm

    My daughter was clack clacking around in my boots all day at school! It was a business day but she spent virtually the whole time filling in her college application form, which we (its where I work) dont mind how quickly and it is filled in!

    So I guess I have given up………

  6. 25 January, 2010 / 12:47 pm

    Brilliant! I suppose it is a slight compliment that she would want to be seen wearing your coat. My mother once offered me hers and I would rather have ended up drenched than been seen in that thing!

    • 26 January, 2010 / 9:29 am

      That’s true – I should have been flattered! I still get that ‘no thanks!’ feeling when my mum offers me her coat, even now at 31 years old…

  7. 25 January, 2010 / 9:35 pm

    I just discovered your blog and very much enjoy the read. Good on you for holding on to your coat. I used to have similar arguments with my mom about wearing hats as a teen – I’m sure I’ll get my just desserts in due course as am just about to have a little girl!

    • 26 January, 2010 / 9:28 am

      Thanks Tanya! I am prepared to give up many things but my coat isn’t one of them. That and wine.

  8. 27 January, 2010 / 10:49 am

    Your coat must be very cool for her to even contemplate wearing it! Up her in Newcastle girls don’t wear coats – they just get goose pimples in their short skirts and bare tummies! Good for you not giving in though – my 10 year old is already showing signs of teenager huffing and puffing, which is scary!

    • 27 January, 2010 / 5:28 pm

      Brrr… I don’t know how they do it! I drive through town on a Saturday night and hear myself say ‘shouldn’t those girls be wearing TIGHTS?’, and then I know I’m gettng old…

  9. 2 February, 2010 / 12:48 pm

    I totally agree about the board games. They’ve got to learn about competition and can’t always win. I would not put up with endless nursery song and story tapes in the car on long journeys. They have to listen to our music. So our 10 year old knows all the words to some obscure songs now. Mean mummy!

    • 2 February, 2010 / 4:49 pm

      Exactly. Best they learn now how great I am at board games…

  10. 24 November, 2012 / 8:01 am

    My 3 year old beat me 3 times in a row at Guess who yesterday and I wasn’t deliberately letting him win. I’m a bit depressed now

  11. 17 October, 2017 / 10:00 am

    Boundaries! Everyone needs some. I draw the line at my make-up. :-)

    • Jo Middleton
      17 October, 2017 / 10:10 am

      I don’t HAVE any make up not to share – Belle has way more than me! :-)

  12. Heather
    21 October, 2017 / 8:14 am

    I think you’ll find you’re not being selfish, but implementing a parenting technique called “natural consequences” i.e. she didn’t look after her stuff and therefore she got wet, which is a learning experience! Also I used to let my son win at board games and now I regret it as he is really terrible at losing.

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