Yep. I said it. Get over yourself.
Your teenager leaving his socks in the living room isn’t about you.
Your toddler screaming in the supermarket isn’t about you.
Your daughter talking back isn’t about you.
So don’t make it about you. The clothes they choose to wear, the food they choose to eat, the sports they want to play?
Children don’t seek to push our buttons. They are simply navigating their world the best they can with the tools they have.” Casey O’Roary
Their reaction isn’t about you;
Their misbehavior isn’t about you;
Their anger isn’t about you.
Then who is it about? Them. Your children are moving through life in the same way we are. Yes, you’re their parent and you’re in charge of teaching them tools to manage their minds, to regulate their emotions, and to grow their intelligences. However, you are not in control of their reactions, their actions, their thoughts, or their life. If you find yourself resisting that last sentence, that’s great news for you as it shows you’re trying to control a bit too much. We control out of fear. Remember the questions from last week’s blog? When we make our kids behavior mean something more than what it is (their reaction to an experience they’re having), it’s usually because of one of the answers to those questions.
Take this time to back up from your experience of parenting so that you can dive deeper in. Go back to last week and answer one of the questions. Or dive into one of these:
- What do you want your relationship to be like with your son or daughter?
- Who do you want to be as a parent? How do you want them to remember you?
- What are your values as a parent? Take the time to think about what they are and then take the time to tell your kids. My boys know I want them to feel loved, feel respected, and to be empowered to be themselves. There are a million ways that I mess up as a mom but when my kids know I’m trying and my intent as a parent is for them, we stay connected.
There is no one way to be a perfect mom but there are a million ways to be a great one.
In life, when we can step back and look at what is happening (versus being in it), we gain knowledge and space to control our reaction. This is where mindfulness has helped me. When we are in the struggle with our kids, we’re just in it. When we can lift out of the experience and look at it, we gain perspective. We can think: “Wow this person is twelve and look at that, they’re acting like a 12-year old.” We don’t need to take their behavior personally. In fact, why would we ever choose to? Culturally we are encouraged to link our self worth to our children success and failures. Sorry, but how does that help us? Putting my self worth in the hands of a hormonal teenager leaves me open to their mood swings and their ability to manage their mind. I choose to take responsibility for my moods, my parenting, my experience here on earth. And sure that sounds nice but that means that I have some work to do.
We will parent the way we were parented unless we choose a different way. Look at how you were parented and decide if that’s how you want to parent? For me, it was not. Emotional regulation was not modeled for me and I am passionate about giving my boys tools to manage their minds so their moods are not dependent on other people or things. I had some work to do when getting conscious about my parenting because we go to what is familiar when triggered. We have to consciously practice something different so that we can really be different. Our kids learn from looking at us and modeling our behavior. They don’t learn from our lectures, no matter how well-worded and thought out they may be. They learn their social and emotional skills from observation.
- How do I talk to myself or about myself? Do I show myself kindness?
- What kind of friend am I? What do my kids hear me saying about my friends? When I come home from a neighborhood event or a GNO?
- How do I treat strangers? How do I react in traffic? In a long line? With a slow customer service rep?
- What kind of romantic relationship do I have? Am I modeling the marriage I want my kids to have? Am I the partner I hope they have?
- How do I take care of myself? Do I eat foods that nourish my body? Do I move my body? Do I get the sleep I need? Do I have a healthy relationship with my technology?
- What do I do when I am wrong? When I’m angry? When I’m sad? When I’m disappointed? Do I model how to process emotions?
The questions above help you learn more about yourself while also helping you become a more conscious parent. If you realize that the reason you’re reacting to your daughter wanting yet another shirt is because you struggle with your impulse purchases, you’ll be kinder to her. If you realize that the reason you snap at your son when he’s on his phone again is because you’re unhappy with the role technology plays in your life, you’ll be calmer with him. If you realize that the reason you’re reacting to your child wanting to quit the swim team is because you don’t follow through with your own exercise goals, you’ll be more patient with him. Do your kids and those around you a favor, dig into your dark corners. Do the hard work so as to make your life easier. There is nothing better than slowing down to realize that I’m reacting because of a thought I’m thinking. If I choose a different thought, I’ll feel a different way. Choose emotional maturity; emotional adulthood. Let your kids live their lives while you live yours. You are not responsible for their experience here on earth. You are their guide, their consultant, their greatest role model but you are not their do-er.
“The evolution of your life and your parenting and your relationships is going to require you to look at the shit you’ve been sweeping under the rug for years. Yes that’s scary but not changing is scarier. ” Heather Chauvin
Choose to do something differently today: answer one of the questions in this blog, keep your mouth shut when your child is yelling or don’t put away the laundry that you’ve asked your child to put away. If you’re not committed to doing the work to create more time, money, and energy, what are you committed to? Complaining? Judging? Blaming? How does that feel? How do you parent when you feel that way? Choose a different path.