A Better You

As a parent, you probably do more before 10 a.m. than many people do all day. But it's not just the fact that you get up early or get more done -- it's who you become as a parent. Give yourself a little credit for who you are and what you do. Here's how parenting makes you a better person.

The moment you become a parent, everything changes -- including you. It's like you, 2.0 -- the new and improved version.

You become less self-absorbed

A few hours after my first daughter was born, my husband was getting ready to go home and sleep a few hours before pickup up my parents from the airport. "I'll just go say goodbye to the baby," he said, and I remember being stunned at the thought that there was a whole other person in our family. A whole person whose needs we had to consider, whose wants counted for something. Eleven years later, there are five of those extra people in our family. That's a lot of needs and wants to think about.

As a parent, you can't be self-centered, because you are aware every moment that there is someone else to think about. You can't sleep in when a child is screaming with a full diaper or needs to be fed or desperately wants to be held, played with, or loved. You can't spend a vacation indulging your own whims when your children have completely different ideas about what they want to do with their time. And that's a good thing. Parenting makes you compassionate. It makes you aware of the rest of the world. It keeps you from being so self-absorbed that you can't see past yourself.

You learn that you are fallible

Before you have children, you know everything about being a parent. You have all the answers, and you sometimes even share them with the parents you observe. And then you have children and you realize how little you know about parenting. And how little you know in general. (And as your children gets older, it gets worse.)

Once you learn how little you know, and accept it, you learn humility. Then you relearn it almost daily as you make mistakes, pick yourself up, and forge on. If, for a moment, you forget that you are not perfect, your children will be right there to remind you. Bless them.

You discover your capacity to love

Perhaps you think you know what love is before you have a child. During your pregnancy, you may have flirted with the idea of that all-encompassing love. But then the baby arrived, and you realized that only now do you know what love truly is. And once you know that, it terrifies you. Because it's true what they say, that having a child is like walking around with your heart beating outside your body.That love, that intensity makes life harder, but also much better. It makes you aware of how much pain some people have to endure, and it makes you incredibly grateful for all that you have.

You find new depths of compassion

In the days and years before you had children, you could feel superior on airplanes, on line at the supermarket, and anywhere else you saw children misbehaving, parents making mistakes, and anyone else who deserved your compassion -- but may have found your contempt. Once you are a parent, you understand. When a cell phone rings in a movie, you know that it was perhaps left on so that the sitter could call. You help distract the crying baby on the airplane -- or you simply keep quiet while others grumble. You learn to put yourself in the shoes of others -- because all too often, they're the only shoes you can find.

Tell us: How has parenting made you a better person?

More parenting tips:


Recommended for you


Comments on "4 Ways parenting makes you a better person"

Twiggy December 29, 2013 | 12:07 AM

I have a child and it hasn't made me a better person. I get more love from my dog. This has been written by a dreamer, not a realist. Here's an idea: google "true mom confessions" and see the reality of what mothers write when they're guaranteed anonymity. Here's a few: "When my kids get a gift from our friends, I look it up online to see how much they spent." "I have had a step daughter since 2004, I still to this day do not love her. She has made life hell for me. " "I'm a horrible mommy. I called my dd4 a little ----- tonight." "If I would have known what life was like after having kids, I would have gotten a dog instead." Remember, these are real mothers. Have they been made "better people" since having kids? No, of course not. That myth is a pile of BS.

MaryAnn February 08, 2013 | 9:04 AM

Interesting the only commentators on this article DON'T have children. And no, being a parent does not preclude one from being an empathetic and overall loving and compassionate person. Once you have a child of your own, those feelings intensify even more. I just recently became a parent, as have many of my own friends. We are in our late 20s, early 30s and we are all professionals (physicians, attorneys, accountants)of some sort who have done just as much, if not more than what Randi claims to do in his/her work/private life. Yet almost all of my friends that have become new mothers are either stay at home NOW or would like to be because of the reasons that this writer articulates. No, just because you did not "push a human" out of your vagina does not automatically grant you special favors, but it does change your perspective on things. No, not all stay at home moms are on facebook and twitter all day and yes, some do neglect their duties; but don't lump us all in that same category. That would be like me saying you sound like a bitter single person who epitomizes the worst type of person this article describes who does not have children. You strengthen this person's argument. Until you experience the pain of carrying a child, undergo labor (which can be a traumatic experience in and of itself---before advancements in medicine this was the leading cause of female death the last few centuries) and change your entire lifestyle, keep telling yourself you are better than all mothers ;)

Ebru June 03, 2012 | 7:35 PM

speaking as a non-parent who has been coming in here for awihle I agree. I also agree with the others about it depending on what the situation is. I have helped my sister raise my nephew. I've clothed him, bought things for him, cared for him when he was sick, been a shoulder to cry on, fed him, helped with homework, disciplined him etc. I may not be a parent myself but I have experience in parenting situations and feel I can help if someone is having trouble. There are questions that I have no idea what to do and just skip in here. But just because I don't have any children of my own doesn't mean I don't have valid advice in some areas.

Randi December 14, 2011 | 8:31 AM

I hope this writer knows how IGNORANT she is. I work full-time. I am up at 4:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. Then I go to work at a grocery store where I have to cater to breeders and their unruly offspring for eight hours. All the SAHMs I know are obviously not busy, because they apparently have all day to sit on Facebook and Twitter. Being a parent makes people MORE self-absorbed, not less. Almost all parents gain a sense of undeserved entitlement and expect absolutely everyone to ADORE them and their "pweshus widdle angel." As a parent, you ARE self-centered merely because you just HAD to ignore the overpopulation of the planet because your DNA is so special that you just HAD to procreate. This part of the article is the biggest lie ever. Also, you don't learn that you are fallible. Almost all the mothers I know act like they never do anything wrong. They act like they are the end all, be all of great parents and that everyone else's style of parenting is what's fallible. Yet again, the sense of knowing everything rears its ugly head when women pop out babies. Lastly, I don't need to squeeze a human out of my vagina to know what love is or to know compassion. I volunteer as a rape crisis counselor, I volunteer as a domestic violence counselor at battered women's shelters, and I donate to charities when I can. THAT is compassion. To even insinuate that one needs a child to know love and compassion is asenine, and you win the gold medal in the Moron Olympics for saying such a thing.

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)