As a dad and a husband I have heard the word “Sacrifice” often. People say you have to sacrifice a lot for your kids. But as I’ve grown older I feel like that may not be true. I think we overuse the word so that we can feel better about ourselves.
I personally don’t feel like I have given up a lot for the sake of my kids. Yes, I’ve made choices, and I’ve chosen to do things for or with my family rather than pursue something of my own. But I don’t see that as sacrifice.
The word Sacrifice in itself bothers me. I feel like when we sacrifice things for our family’s sake, we are kind of letting our family down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we need to be selfish and only pursue the things we want. But we can’t go around saying “I’ve sacrificed so much for you!” either. That just sends the wrong message.
I want to be a teacher, and I want to have a small screen printing side business. When I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child, I thought to myself how little money there would be in screen-printing and how with a kid on the way I wouldn’t have time to do my student teaching. So instead I switched my major to Business. I had this notion that there was more money to be made and I’d be able to provide for my family. I had a job in retail management, and then I took a job doing some accounting. It didn’t take long to realize, business is extremely boring and it’s not what I wanted to do. But money needed to be made. I “sacrificed” my goals of being a teacher/screenprinter for my family.
When my daughter turned 5, I remember her asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I told her, “I want to teach and print”. She thought that was cool, but then asked me why I wasn’t doing those things. I wasn’t about to tell her “I sacrificed all that for you.” That would be the worst thing I could do.
It was around that time that I bought a little hobby printing press for my garage. It was also about that time that I started going back to school to get my teaching certificate.
My daughter is 8 now, I’m certified as a teacher (but haven’t gotten a teaching job yet) and I still screen print in my garage. It took a lot of work to do my student teaching and I missed out on a lot of nights hanging out with my kids because I was in classes and doing homework. But I’m ok with that, because I didn’t “sacrifice” my dream for the sake of my kids, and I don’t see that as being selfish at all.
There will come a time when my children will have to honestly consider what they want to do with their lives. As they grow to that point I can tell them to pursue all of their dreams and I can tell them that they can be and do anything they want. But a time will come that they will look back and ask themselves why I never pursued my own dreams.
We are told that our children will respect and love us more when they realize what we have done and gone through for them. But I think when we “sacrifice” our own dreams for our kids then we do them a disservice. I don’t want my kids to pursue their dreams and feel bad that I stopped pursuing mine for them.