How to be selfish in parenting

Sometimes, you have to be a selfish parent, Olga Levancuka says. (Fotolia)

Sometimes, you have to be a selfish parent, Olga Levancuka says. (Fotolia)

Joanne Richard, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

“Be a selfish parent!”

Stop praising them and start ignoring them, declares celebrity lifestyle guru Olga Levancuka . Basically, the more you give, the less you get! Levancuka pooh-poohs popular parenting practices of indulgence and devotion. “Get on with your life while they get on with theirs!” says the author of How to be Selfish (And Other Uncomfortable Advice).

She advocates being selfish with your time and taking care of your own needs – it’s good for your kids. “Get your kids to do stuff for you. You are not their servant, nor the doormat. The earlier you stop behaving like one, the earlier they’ll grow to respect you.”

Less is more: Being selfish is a must if you want to protect your sanity, your health and a presence in your kid’s life. “Most parents in recent years treat their kids as their ‘pets’ and/or chores - a trophy on display, a walking-talking extension of their own hopes and dreams,” says the controversial coach. “We mold our kids into what we wanted to be but couldn’t be - or failed to do.”


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Learn the word “NO!” Today’s cushy-parenting has created out-of-control over-entitled blamers: “In fact, the inability to deal with life is so acute nowadays, that mental health issues are ever spreading… a lot of mental health issues and especially emotional-eating and obesity are supported, if not a direct result in many cases, of cushy-parenting.”

Levancuka, known to her fans as the Skinny Rich Coach, admits she has touched a major nerve of parents “who ‘know what their children should do’ and yet do nothing with their own lives and their own identities – outside of parenting. It’s unfair to expect so much of your children or, even worse, use your children’s achievements as part of your own accolades, whilst failing in your other aspects of life; be that career, be it the relationship with your partner, be it your basic social skills.”

According to Canadian parenting expert Kathy Lynn, the word “selfish” has a “nasty connotation but really it’s about balance, taking care of yourself. From the child perspective it’s about learning the difference between wants and needs.”

It’s not selfish to get the kids to pitch in, says Lynn, of Parentingtoday.ca. “Kids live in the house with us and they will benefit by learning how to do chores. So a reasonable amount of time spent dusting, vacuuming, helping with laundry and cooking is a positive thing.”

Youth psychologist Dr. Carl Pickhardt, of carlpickhardt.com says that parental attention doesn’t lead to indulgence and entitlement if it is modified in two important ways: “The child is also taught to pay attention to parental need, so the relationship works two ways, not just one - the child’s; and the child is taught attending to own needs so doesn’t become overly dependent on parents for self-satisfaction.”


Celebrity lifestyle guru Olga Levancuka. (Supplied)

Parents can end up self-sacrificing to personal cost of neglect and interpersonal resentment, says Pickhardt, blogger at psychologytoday.com. “They get angry and blame the “selfish” young person which is inappropriate because the parent is at fault for not taking firm stands for mutuality in the relationship.”

Often, at issue is not getting the resistant teenager to do more, but for the parent to do less, and the young person learning to pick up the slack or do without, says Pickhardt. “As parents let go doing for the adolescent, the young person must become more self-sufficient in doing for her or himself.”

To keep a balanced relationship with a teenager, an adequate and equitable mix of what each does for the other must be maintained, he adds, by “exploiting the dependency of the adolescent on the parent for various provisions and permissions by declaring: ‘Of course I want to do for you, but before I do I need to have you do something for me’.”

Get a life!

  • Are you actually giving attention, or have you become a control freak?
  • Are you devoted to the point of becoming our kid’s slaves or devoted in a sense that gives the freedom your kids need to explore their life and learn how to interact with their peers on their own whenever possible?

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