A huge part of parenting is trying to figure out why—why kids do what they do, why things are happening the way they are, and why the dynamics within the family are playing out the way they happen to be playing out. One thing that I have learned over the years is that sometimes our child’s motivation is really just basic self-interest. As parents, we might try to overcomplicate things when it comes down to the reality that the child is really just trying to do what he wants to and what he thinks is best and right for him!
Self-interest is not a bad thing—it is really a basic part of human nature and quite healthy to a certain extent. There is nothing wrong with a child knowing what she wants and trying to make sure it happens. As parents, however, our job is to guide, set limits, and try to keep the big picture in mind. What is in the apparent self-interest of the child may not truly be in her best interest, and it might not fit in to the overall interest of the family, community, etc.
Instead of getting angry or aggravated at our child’s blatant self-interest, it might be wiser to just expect it as a normal, natural reality. In some way, we could even celebrate the fact that our child is trying to advocate for himself. Of course, as parents, the constant self-absorption of our kids can get tiresome. Many of us pray for the day when our child will actually be able to think about someone besides him or herself! Meanwhile, accepting that they may be coming from a place of self-interest can help us as parents to counter that with some parental guidance and nudging toward a more “global” view of the circumstances.