I was speaking with a parent who was concerned about their child’s behavior.
“He’s just so angry all the time! I’ve tried everything I’m not sure what else to do. I don’t know what I did to make him like this.”
So I asked a very pointed question: What makes you think it has anything to do with you?
The parent was caught off guard. “He’s so young! I can’t imagine it would be anything other than me making him angry about something.”
So I said, “Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.”
The parent was quiet for some time before they said, “I had never considered that it wasn’t me.”
This was an eye-opening moment. They were able to stop and notice the situation as it was without looking to assign blame or find fault. Each situation has information for us if we learn how to pay attention, without judgement. Part of the process of gathering information is to be neutral so you can stay clear and be able to more intentionally decide what to do. In this situation, the parent was able to focus on the event (child’s anger), what’s happening because of it and how they want things to be. This allowed the parent to see potential options on what could be the next step, options that were not able to be thought of when they assumed the behavior issue was related to them.
Consider these situations: the people whispering nearby; the person who cuts you off or steals your parking spot; the rain cloud that seems to follow you on a particularly tough day. Sometimes what happens has nothing to do with you.
For a child, sometimes their behavior is a direct consequence of something their parents did or didn’t do. Sometimes, it’s a stronger power directing them, like hormones or mental capacity or genetic makeup. Many times, it has nothing to do with you.
So keep rocking on as the best parent you can be. Be open, stay tuned in to your kids and don’t make assumptions. Sure, we all wonder if we’re doing it right but sometimes, it has nothing to do with you. Some kids are just born creative. Some are born with a seemingly unnatural energy. Some are born a little more serious. In each instance, they bring something unique to the world and none of this is because of you.
Consider, instead, that you are your kids’ guide. Be there to understand them and help them understand their world. Your role as the parent is not to tell them who to be; it’s to help them learn how to be in their world. Give them the space to discover who they are and how to find where they fit in life. Help them identify their guardrails until they’re old enough to do it for themselves.
Be there to guide, support and encourage your kids to figure things out, own their decisions and find their way.
The next time you see questionable behavior from your kid(s), take a deep breath and ask yourself why it may be happening. Assess what’s inspiring the behavior. This can help you better guide, support and encourage your child through their behavior challenge.
Sometimes it is you. We all get aggravated, tired and lose our cool. And if it is you, own it. Get calm. Slow down. Make a change.
And sometimes it is just your child working through some things. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.
Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?