Whenever I lose my cool, this is what I remember.
I own my behavior fully and completely. Owning my behavior means not making excuses for it.
Owning my behavior means not blaming someone else for it.
Owning my behavior focuses on my actions, not on the actions of someone else.
The reason why I lost my cool is not because someone made me lose my cool. I lost my cool because I was not in control of my emotions. This is the truth. Children don’t make us lose our cool. We get angry and lose our cool because we lack the skills to do better, or because we feel that we are entitled to behave this way.
Full ownership means that when I make a mistake, when I lose my cool, I apologize and repair broken trust. When I apologize, I own my behavior as a mistake and acknowledge the impact I had on someone else. That’s it. No buts. If I want to add something, I can add that I will try to be better in the future. This is not the time to teach a lesson. This takes away from the apology and me owning my behavior. If I want to teach a lesson, and offer guidance, do it another time.
Why do we do this? Owning behavior models personal responsibility. “I am responsible for me and my actions. I am in control of my behaviour. I am in control of my life.” “If I make a mistake or hurt someone, it is my responsibility to repair the relationship”. This is a valuable lesson for children to witness.
We MUST separate the owning of our behavior from teaching lessons. It muddies waters when we do. “I’m sorry I got angry with you, but you weren’t listening” is toxic messaging and is not okay. It’s a backhanded apology and an abdication of your responsibility as a parent. It conveys the idea that the child is responsible for your behavior and somehow deserved to have someone angry with him.
Separation allows lessons to be lessons at a later time, an neutral time. There are no mixed messages…no shame, no insidious messages of “you made me do it”. Full ownership is brave and full of integrity.
So Dads if you make a mistake, it’s your turn to step up: No blame, no shame, just honesty…just ownership. That’s it.
Even though it was hard, deep down I’ve always wanted to take ownership. If feels great, mature, loving, manly even.