Over Responsibility

If you are/have been a people pleasing adult, you’ll know what it’s like to live in a constant state of anxiety. How chaotic it is to frequently be worrying about what people think, how stressful it is to wonder whether your every action is going to cause some kind of conflict and how tiring it is to keep up with everyone’s non communicative demands. I wouldn’t wish this kind of life style on anyone, let alone a child and yet we appear to live in such a world that almost encourages children to live this path. Children are so often expected to cater for an adults needs, when what they need, is to have their needs catered for by us. It’s not a child’s job to take care of adults, it’s our job as adults to take care of them. Now this may seem obvious as I write it, however I see so often, little ways in which adults teach children to be responsible for them. One being how adults openly express how their child’s actions make them feel certain ways and though this may seem harmless, I can assure you that when it occurs consistently, it’s not. “You made me angry – I feel sad when you hit your sister.” When we say these things we are not only showing children they have power over us, but also that they are responsible for our feelings and they most certainly are not. When this happens, children learn to mould their behaviour to ensure they avoid ‘making us upset’ and they also learn to rely on others for their happiness and sense of self-worth. As adults, it is solely our responsibility to take accountability for all of our own feelings. Even if we do not know how, we have the ability to regulate and control our feelings, whereas children do not. If we are feeling upset, by all means it is okay to express that, but we do not need to imply it is a child’s fault. Even if we don’t directly blame a child for how we feel, when we explain that a child’s action has led us to feel this way, we send a message that it is their fault. We can take that opportunity to show our child how we manage that emotion instead. “I’m feeling angry right now, so I am going to take some deep breaths.” I realize this may not make sense to some of you; some of you may be thinking ‘I’m just trying to teach my child to be considerate and empathetic.’ Of course I absolutely encourage this, after all, being open about our feelings builds emotional intelligence, but there are more appropriate ways to do this. Using children and animals is best for this, as they too are vulnerable just as your child is. If we are ever going to succeed in preventing children to become over responsible, people pleasing beings, we as a society need to stop encouraging children to feel responsible for our feelings.

I’m sure none of you reading this, want your child to learn that putting other peoples needs ahead of their own is okay. Therefore, I invite you to become conscious of how you are speaking to your child; make it your mission to pay close attention when strong and unpleasant feelings arise, and do your best to refrain from explaining why (if it has been provoked by your child’s actions). Of course no-one is perfect, and there will be times you may slip up. The important thing here is to try.

One Response

  1. Id like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own blog now 😉

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