Own your Stuff. What does that mean? Basically, it means being responsible for your thoughts, feelings, and especially actions. The good the bad and the ugly. All of it.
As parents we mess up, we make mistakes, we can react angrily or lash out. It’s understandable. Parenting is hard. But the real question is, who is responsible for those unsavoury reactions? You or your kids?
I think parents are responsible for how they act and react. Me included.
So, why have I chosen to own my stuff? Because:
- I am not a passive recipients of my childrens’ behavior. They don’t have control over my feelings and reactions, nor should they. That would not be a good situation.
- “You’re making me angry” blames my children for my immature or unregulated reactions, and stops me from being responsible for my own feelings. It’s actually disempowering and I choose an empowered life.
- I don’t want to model that someone else is responsible or can control my feelings. I want to model for them mature behaviour in the face of frustration. Kids learn by watching.
I get it. I get why we say these things out of frustration. This type of language is used when we are stressed, tired, or otherwise not feeling good. But this points to the importance of self-care and distressing more than anything else.
Think about it. The same thing that angers us one day we can have more patience for the the next. Why, on some days, are we able to act more maturely and skillfully in responding to non-cooperation, a broken glass, or being late to school? What is the difference?
The difference is the parent. The child does not make the parent react in a more mature way. The child does not make the parent act more calmly and skillfully. No. So. If it was me who was able to be more mature, calm, and loving in one moment, it is me who was reactive, angry and punitive in the next.
My child does not make me, I make me.
Here is the real downside to all of this. If blamed enough, children can start to internalize some unfortunate messages. Messages like these:
- “You are responsible for the way I feel”
- “You are to blame for me treating you badly or hurting you”
- “You deserve to be treated like this”
- “You are responsible for the problems in this house”
- “Who you are is not acceptable”
- “There is something wrong with you”
- “You need to change”
- “You need to behave the way I want you to in order to be accepted”
Have you internalized any messages like these? Did you often feel unfairly blamed as a child? These messages are harmful and can lead to the creation of self limiting beliefs.
Ultimately, “Makes me” blames our children for our own personal difficulties and poor reactions. It stops us from taking responsibility ourselves. It stops us from growing as parents and individuals. It stops us from looking from helping our kids grow and problem solve.
However, I know that we can choose something different. We can choose personal responsibility, maturity and we can choose to own our stuff. We can choose to be the parent our child needs us to be.
In truth and love,