For years, I was under the strong and false belief that it was my JOB to make sure my kids were happy. If they weren’t smiling and feeling joyful every given moment, I took it personal and felt like a failure. I truly believed that it was my fault if they weren’t happy. When they threw fits or felt mad, I just knew it was my responsibility to fix the problem and if I couldn’t, I was a bad mom.
I beat myself up emotionally about it all the time, and allowed my kids to do the same. I became their scapegoat. When things went wrong in their lives, they learned to blame it on me to somehow feel better. But it didn’t seem to help. They didn’t really feel better, they just felt justified in their blame. Just having someone to blame for your problems or bad feelings doesn’t make those feelings go away. Pointing the finger of blame on other people doesn’t solve anything. I’ve heard it said that when we point the finger of blame on someone else, there are always more fingers pointing back at us. I have found that to be the truth. By teaching my kids that they could blame their unhappiness on me, I did my family a great disservice. I am now trying hard to dig ourselves out of the rut that I created by doing so.
Over the last few years, I have found a much healthier and happier way to parent and to live.
I have learned that it is NOT MY JOB TO MAKE MY KIDS HAPPY!
It is not your job either.
In fact, no matter how hard we try, we CANNOT MAKE SOMEONE ELSE FEEL ANYTHING! We can try to make them happy, or sad, or mad or glad, but it is ultimately up to them how they respond or feel.
Happiness is an individual CHOICE- we can choose to be happy or miserable in any given moment or circumstance, regardless of what is happening or who is to blame. We are the only ones that can control how we feel about anything, and how we react. And that goes for our children too!
When we learn that happiness is really just a choice, it can be liberating. We so often blame others for our problems, because it seems easier than blaming ourselves, but it is actually easier to take the responsibility upon ourselves.
When we take the blame for EVERY emotion that we feel, we can gain control over our lives in a way that is empowering and frees us from our misery. Because if something is my fault, I can fix it! If I am the one to blame for something, then I can be the one to make it better. We can’t expect other people to fix our problems for us- we can see how well that philosophy works with our political or school systems today. Trying to solve problems for others often makes the problem worse, and certainly doesn’t teach that person how to empower themselves or solve their own problems.
We can see this in the many people that feel entitled to things these days. Entitlement is no joke and has become somewhat of an epidemic in our society. Too many people are living off of others and have no idea how to free themselves from the bondage of waiting for others to do for them, what they can and should do for themselves.
If we would all just take a look in the mirror and start recognizing the power that we have to choose and feel however we want to about each thing that happens in our lives, we can experience real power. Power to take back the pen of our own story and write it the way we want it to truly be. By learning to be the author of our own lives, we can become great examples to our children to do the same. We can teach them to take responsibility for the way they feel and how they react to life.
Instead of becoming the scapegoat for our children, we can become their greatest cheerleader and support from the sidelines. We can let them call the shots on how they feel and what they do, without taking the blame for those things. It is our job as parents to raise responsible children that can leave home and contribute to society. We need to train our children to take control of their reactions and feelings- by first doing so ourselves. We need to teach them to see how they can choose to feel good or bad about every single thing that happens in their lives. By showing them that we can choose happiness and find joy in the journey of life, we can lead them by our example to look for the good in life and to CHOOSE HAPPY.
This means that we need might need to change some of the vocabulary we use. Phrases like, “You are driving me crazy,” or “You always make me late,” place the blame for our feelings squarely on our children. In reality, we are the ones choosing to go “crazy” or “be late.” There are ways to not feel such things even when the kids are pulling a full-out blitz on us. Believe me, I know this can be hard to accept or understand. There are many times that I feel completely justified in blaming my kids for my reactions, as I am still a work in progress.
We are not responsible for anyone’s feelings but our own. No one can take away our ability to feel however we want to feel about anything. In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, explains that man can have everything taken from them: their homes, families, life’s work, money, and clothes, but they cannot take away their ability to decide how they will feel about it or what they will think. We are the only ones that can think our thoughts and ultimately control our feelings. No one else can do that for us. No one can force us to think or feel anything that we do not choose.
When it comes to raising our children, stop allowing them to take your power from you. Stop blaming them for making you late. Stop giving your kids the power to control how you feel or react to life. Our kids don’t really drive us crazy, we do. We drive ourselves crazy by essentially handing them our car keys and our power…. by expecting things that are not realistic, or by wanting perfection. When we start learning how to control how we feel and react to life, our children will learn how to follow our lead. They will see our reformed ways and will enjoy a greater peace in their lives by having a parent that leads with love and by empowered example.
For related articles about parenting:
How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids
Freebie: 10 Ways to Stop Yelling at Your Kids
Mom, You Are Not Failing