How Having a Child Is Teaching Me To Love Myself

by December McIntyre
Originally Published: 
A blonde woman in a red dress with her arms wide open who loves herself

People are always telling new parents that they will never experience a love as deep and as powerful as the love they have for their child. Anyone with children knows this to be true, of course. The love we feel for our children is simple and perfect. I’ve never loved anything in life as much as I love my daughter.

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My heart already aches thinking about letting her go into a world that will sometimes be scary and unkind. When our children hurt, we hurt. As parents, we want nothing more than to wrap our kids up and protect them. To save them from making bad decisions and from being hurt, but we know the ups and downs are all part of life. We accept that we cannot protect our children forever. Our job is to always be there to offer guidance, but the most important thing we can do is raise them to be healthy, strong individuals who have the tools to navigate their way through the most challenging days life has to offer. To do that, we arm them with confidence, and we teach them to love and respect themselves.

But how can we teach our children these skills if, somewhere along the way, we gave up on these things for ourselves? How can I raise a daughter who loves herself if, in reality, I’m not loving myself? When I know I’m settling for less than good enough in my own life? What if I loved myself as much as I love my daughter? What if I could follow the advice I would give to her? How would my life be different?

These are the questions I posed to myself a few months ago. Through this, I came to the difficult realization that I endure a slew of things I would never want my child to endure. I like who I am, but frankly, I stopped truly caring about me at some point, and started putting everyone else first.

How am I fixing this? By asking myself one question that is completely changing my life. What would I want for my child? Because I am deserving of that same love.

The first time I asked myself that question, I broke down because imagining my daughter going through what I was going through was painful. I’ve been struggling to get out of an extremely unhealthy relationship for years, and everything suddenly became clear. This thing that’s been heavy on my mind for so long became simple. What would I want for my daughter? I would tell her to walk away and never look back because she’s worth so much more than that. And that’s what I’m doing. Finally. Because, like her, I deserve more.

So many people offer us advice, but we never take it. It’s easy to disregard the advice of others, but when you are able to feel the motivation and love behind that advice, it’s a game changer. At least it has been for me. By imagining myself as my daughter, I finally understand. I’m learning to love myself as much as I love her.

To honestly evaluate my life based on what I would want for my child is forcing me to care for myself. It’s allowing me to model the behaviors and to make the decisions I would want for my child. I am slowly changing to the best of my ability because I know she’s watching and learning. There is no greater way to teach our children love and respect than to have love and respect for ourselves. We need to find our strength so that we can raise strong children.

The next time you are faced with something difficult in your life, I challenge you to ask yourself this one question. What would I want for my child? Navigating through life using a compass of true self love may not get us exactly where we need to be, but it will least point us in the right direction.

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