Understanding exactly what it means to be responsible to our children, as opposed to assuming responsibility for them, is an all important part of supporting their journey towards an independent life. Assuming responsibility for our children does not encourage their autonomy, whereas being responsible to them does. Read the follow up post to compare the difference between these two approaches. (This post was taken from my weekly “Victim Vocabulary”series (have u subscribed?).
When we take responsibility for our children we see them as being extensions of ourselves. We are more interested in getting it done the fastest, easiest way than we are in furthering the well-being of all. We too often opt for what will make us look good as parents, rather than acting to best meet the needs of those involved. We want to be in control rather than teach our children self-responsibility. We have our own agenda about how things have to be and we resist anything that does not go along with our plan. We think our children define us, that what they do determines our worth so we try to manage our image through them.
When we take responsibility for our children we do the following:
We do for them rather than let them do for themselves.
We see them as our possession, rather than as their own individual.
We want to control their behavior, thoughts & feelings.
We are more invested in their outcomes (grades, for instance) than they are.
We want them to make us proud, rather than feel proud of themselves.
We see them as inexperienced & therefore incapable.
We use guilt, shame or force to manipulate them to do what we want.
We over-ride or undermine their desires and decisions to keep them dependent.
We demand perfection from them so we won’t be embarrassed.
We attempt to buy their love with money and things.
We are more interested in having their approval than in doing what’s right for them.
We let ourselves be ruled by their moods and demands, rather than stand firm.
We make excuses for them rather than face their choices.
We try to protect them from the consequences of their behavior.
We bail them out of trouble over and over, rather than allow them to face reality.
We give in to their unrealistic demands so they won’t “be mad” at us.
Does this describe you as a parent? Does it describe the way you were parented?
Be sure and read the follow up post; it’s a description of being responsible, as a parent, to, rather than for, our children.