How to Quit Blaming Your Kids + Take Responsibility

Be honest.

 

How many times have you said something like,

 

“He drives me crazy.”

“She makes me so frustrated!”

“I have to yell or they won't listen.”

 

A lot, right?

 

You're not alone. But that way of talking (and thinking) keeps you from getting the results you want.

 

Why?

 

Because when you blame your kids for things that aren't within their control, you aren't taking responsibility for yourself, and you're actually giving away your personal power.

 

responsibility quote

 

It may not always seem like it, but you have a choice about how you feel in any situation. No one can make you feel anything. In fact, it's your own thoughts that create your experiences. So, when your child triggers you emotionally, you can choose to let it bother you and take his behavior personally, or you can see the situation more objectively and let go of your need to be ‘right.'

 

You also always have a choice about how you behave. When you yell, it's because you're choosing to yell. When you give the silent treatment, you choose that, too.

 

When I realized and accepted that I was 100% responsible for my choices, it actually made parenting a whole lot easier. Trying to control my kids and putting the responsibility for my feelings and behavior on their shoulders was useless, and it left me feeling exhausted and resentful. Focusing on myself allowed me to feel more in control — regardless of what my kids did.

 

The first time I remember consciously choosing this approach was when Marissa was three. She refused to get out of the bath even though I had asked her several times. I felt a surge of frustration bubbling up in my chest. In the past, my usual response was to raise my voice at her or just pick her up out of the bath against her will. Instead, even though I felt angry inside, I focused on speaking with a calm voice.

 

Like a preschool teacher who lowers her voice when she wants the class to quiet down, I spoke in a low monotone and repeated my request. I also added a logical consequence: “Either you get out of the bath on your own, or I'm going to pick you up and take you out.”

 

She chose to stay in the tub (her responsibility) and I took her out (mine).

 

By choosing to respond calmly, I regained my sense of control. The best part was that there was nothing to blame Marissa for – she simply made her choice – and I made mine.

 

I'm sure some sort of meltdown ensued as a result of me extracting her from the bath. But how she responded to my limit was secondary to how I felt following through. Besides, I'm not responsible for her feelings any more than she's responsible for mine.

 

responsibility

 

In the comments below, tell us about a time when you consciously chose your response to a situation, and how it made you feel.

 

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Showing 9 comments
  • Kelly - Project Me
    Reply

    Love it Pam. Years ago I wrote on a post it note: No one can MAKE me feel anything. And it became my mantra. Whenever I found myself thinking or saying ‘He/she made me so _____” I’d hear it and stop myself.

    A good mantra for every mother to have tattoo’d on her! ha ha!

  • Andi Wickman
    Reply

    Great article! I sometimes need the reminder to really focus on speaking with a calm voice even though I don’t always feel calm at the time. Once I start speaking calmly my body starts to calm down as well.

    Love it!

  • Deb
    Reply

    I love this! Just yesterday I said to my son “I’m sorry for getting so upset. Sometimes when I’m mad at myself, I notice I take it out on you and I feel badly about that.” He then said, all excited, “Mom, I do that to you too!” I was so proud of him noticing the pattern…and then we talked about it. While I would rather be able to catch myself before I raise my voice (I typically can), I was happy to be able to take responsibility in retrospect and have this very conversation with my 12 year old boy. Thanks for the reminder and insights!

  • Louisa
    Reply

    I say the three things at the top of your post a lot! My shouting has got worse recently too. I am going to follow your advice and pause before acting today, and see how we get on. Thanks for the nudge! x

  • Kristy
    Reply

    Our little boy who’s 16 months and is teething. After many broken nights of sleep I admit I was starting to get frustrated. But in the wee hours of the morning as I patted him off to sleep (again) I decided to consciously choose to just focus on the moment and absorb his gorgeous face & that delectable baby smell. And wow- it made such a difference. It didn’t change the outcome but I let go of the frustration and actually enjoyed those sleepless nights!

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Kristy,

      I love your story. It demonstrates how one small change in your thinking can have a huge impact. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

      And even though you’ll now look back on those sleepless nights with more fondness, I hope you get some well-deserved rest. xoxo

  • Jana
    Reply

    OMG I love the line

    “She chose to stay in the tub (her responsibility) and I took her out (mine).”

    That really struck a cord.

    Thanks for the awesome post 🙂

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Jana. Thanks for your comment.

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