Own your Stuff, Parents

This blog post explores the ideas behind “You make me…”

Have you ever used the phrase, or something similar to “You make me angry” in situations where you are annoyed or angry with your child? I have. Often, we’ll say, “You make me” when things aren’t going so well, when we think our kids are causing us some kind of problem.

The question is this: Does my child’s action make me feel something? Or do I feel something in response to my child’s behavior?

There is a difference. I am not a passive recipient of my child’s behavior. My kids don’t have control over my feelings and reactions.

There are hidden consequences when we use “makes me” with our children. “Makes me” blames our children, and stops us from being responsible for our own feelings.

This type of language is used when we are already stressed, tired, or otherwise not feeling good. Think about it. The same thing that angers us one day we 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 was 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 you who was able to be more mature, calm, and loving in one moment, it is you who is reactive, angry and punitive in the next. Your child does not make you, you make you.

There is damage that is done to the developing mind and spirit when children hear “You make me”. They can internalize 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”
“The only solution to this is that you change”

These messages are incredibly harmful. So is the modelling we do when we demonstrate to kids that someone else is responsible for the way we feel. Heart breaking disempowerment…

“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 for reasons and solutions to challenging behavior.

I’m sorry if it hurts to read this. I hurts me too, to know that I have done this and can still slip. I know that this is a reality, something that children are experiencing, but do not deserve.

Let’s choose something different. Let’s invite our children on to the same team as us. Instead of blaming and creating separation, let’s embrace and empower.

In truth and love,

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