Priorities literally define what we do in life. Whatever we establish as top priority is that which we give the most time and effort to. Whatever is lowest priority gets only the "leftovers". For some people, family is their top priority and everything else revolves around it. For others, their profession is their top priority and all other activities must fall in line behind it. For others their faith is their highest priority and is the focal point for all life's activities.
That, which is top priority in a person's life, is obviously the most important thing to that person. People become very protective of that which is most cherished to them. A person does not attempt to infringe on, try to take from or otherwise mess with a person's top priority without expecting quite a fight. Those things which are low priorities matter little to a person, and if they are lost, stolen or ruined; there is little chance of any negative repercussions. But, if that which is most cherished by someone is tampered with; the cavalry will be called along with Colombo and all three CSI departments.
When parents chose to place something besides their children as the top priority in their lives, the risk of hurting their children rises greatly. The hurt would not be deliberate, but the pain would be the same whether consciously inflicted or inadvertently done. Parents who chose to make their profession top priority relegate the children into modified foster care. They are shipped from one set of surrogate parents to another. First the school or pre-school cares for them, and then coaches and others who handle extra-curricular activities care for them and then relatives or nannies take care of them the rest of the time.
"But you don't understand" I can hear many saying at this very moment. "I must make my job or jobs top priority in order to make enough money to support the family". This very statement is echoed over and over again in this country. I am painfully aware that most parents who make their profession their top priority did not do it voluntarily. They were forced into the situation by financial obligations, a spouse leaving (or dying) or a multitude of other things that come up.
I do understand that no matter whether through greed or need, if a parent makes a job, a relationship, drugs or their social life a higher priority than their children; they are going to hurt their children. A parent must make extremely difficult choices in life, and where and how they spend their time and money is one of the biggest of all. A parent has no right to say "what about me" when they have children literally depending on them. A parent has no right to take from what the children need to supply their own greed.
From the time I can remember, I was "raised" first by my sister, then my brother, then my grandmother and finally myself. This didn't happen because my parents didn't love me or because they were busy making a fortune. It was because of their work schedules that I hardly had any time with the two people I wanted to spend time with the most. My mom worked from midnight till 8:00 am as a Registered Nurse at the local Veterans Hospital. My dad worked for the Post Office and had revolving shifts that even included riding the trains while sorting mail.
I do not resent them for not having the time to spend with me, for they did spend all the time they had available. I didn't turn out all bad, but I must confess that I have faced "rejection" issues my whole life. It took me many years to understand where those issues originated, but finally I understood they came from the lack of time and closeness in my family while growing up. I survived, and I am not a victim, but I live with the understanding that I have a weakness and if I don't keep an eye on it, I will slide into a state of feeling like "nobody loves me".
I thank God my parents were responsible enough to not neglect me or forsake me. I thank God they loved me enough to not throw me off a bridge because of anger or frustration. I thank God they provided food, clothing, a basketball and a dog for me along with anything else I genuinely needed. I thank God I at least had parents for there are millions out there who never got to enjoy a parent at all. I only wish I would have had more time with them growing up.
If "family" is not a top priority in your life, perhaps it should be, especially if you are a parent or have elderly parents to care for. Little children and elderly parents have one thing in common; they both need to be cared for by someone.
In conclusion I would say this to parents and children:
Parents: Always be thankful for the awesome privilege it is to have children. Never allow the pressures and frustrations of life to be taken out on your children. Always remember how vulnerable they are and how much they trust you to take care of them in every category. Never, ever take your children for granted, for in our day and time, one never knows
Children: Always be thankful for the privilege of having parents, for there are millions around the world who have none. Never allow the pressures and frustrations of growing up to be taken out on your parents; after all, they are not to blame for your hormones changing. Always remember how much your parents love you no matter how things look. Never, ever take your parents for granted, for they could be gone in a literal heartbeat.