Thursday, September 05, 2013

Put Your Own Mask On

That's what the tell you on the airplane, put your own mask on before attempting to help others.
Why? Well, because you have to make sure you have enough to give. That's a big statement, there.
Think on it for a second.

I've thought about this often when thinking of the multitasking mommy martyr issues that come up with child rearing. You can't give 100% of yourself away, you have to fill up your own cup and then whatever spills over is what you give away. You have to take care of yourself, put yourself first, value yourself.

This is the lesson that we have to teach our children. It's not a lesson of entitlement; far from it; it's a lesson of empowerment.

Ultimately, the problem with entitlement is that it forces others to change their behavior to protect the individual. Like banning books or music or movies so our kids won't accidentally be exposed to them. Or restricting what is considered appropriate for women to wear in public so men won't be unnecessarily titillated. 

Entitlement is blaming others for your shortcomings and failures.
When the Washington Post Opinion page ran a piece by Dana Milbank referring to Generation X as the weakest generation because (according to his piece): we had no conflict. Flawed logic from the start because there were armed conflicts a-plenty, just no drafts forcing those who otherwise would not volunteer for service to volunteer for service. The examples he uses are, among others, Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin. I counter this argument saying that the internal character of these individuals is what makes them weak--not the lack of character-building opportunities in their societies.
Empowerment is taking control of your life and making your own decisions to push you toward success; not sitting back and pointing fingers at the establishments that didn't allow your success to happen.
Continuing with the war analogy from the Post piece, I know many other examples of strong members of my generation who fought in wars, volunteered for active military service even though there was no draft (myself, my husband included). I know lots of strong, hard-working Generation Xers who live within their means, respect their neighbor and do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. And if they make mistakes? They apologize.
Entitlement is teaching our children that other people need to change but they are perfect the way they are.
When we teach our children that girls need to stop being "provocative" instead of discussing with both our sons and daughters that they should respect their bodies and the bodies of others instead of judging them. "Provocative" is in the eye of the beholder and what is considered perfectly acceptable by one may be considered revealing by another. This provides license to neither judge nor does it constitute an invitation.
Empowerment is teaching our children that they can only change themselves, their own behavior.
I teach my son and daughter both to respect, to not judge and to accept others with an open heart and mind. Because of this, they don't understand why politicians fight over women's rights, racial issues, gay rights. All people deserve civil rights.
Entitlement is believing that the rules don't apply to you.
I meet these people often. At the gym, they're the ones who bring young children into the clearly-marked "ADULTS ONLY NOBODY UNDER 18 ALLOWED" locker room. It's the people who borrow more money than they can afford from the bank and don't understand when there are repercussions when that money can't be repaid. The people who take phone calls in the movie theater--during the movie. The parents who allow their too-young kids to get social media accounts because 'everyone else has one!'
Empowerment is understanding that rules are annoying, sometimes we break them (we all make mistakes, I own that), but for the most part, it's important to follow them.
Walk the extra 20 feet to take your child to the family locker room. Live within your means. Be respectful to others in the movie theater. Slow down and merge behind that car, don't cut it off. Don't let your kids to grow up too fast through social media. Be kind. Be considerate. Empower yourself.
I'm more about personal responsibility. Own your strengths--and your weaknesses. Accept them, don't except them. And while I believe that you should take care of yourself first, that doesn't mean that others should be inconvenienced so you don't have to be.


  1. I agree completely but have to comment on girls dressing "provocatively." In Victorian times, a woman showing her ankles was considered scandalous. The effects of hormones on teens are inevitable, but they don't have to control anyone's actions!

    ~Joyce Scarbrough

  2. Very well said, Mari!