By MomGAL Expert Lin Eleoff
Who is responsible for your child’s happiness?
When I suggest to my coaching clients that it’s not their responsibility to make sure their children are happy, their first reaction is to make sure they heard me correctly: “you mean it is my responsibility, right?”
“No. It’s not”, I reply, knowing full well that I’ve said something that not only goes against the grain, it goes against ever fiber of their being.
I explain that the reason we can’t be to see our children in pain is because we believe we can feel their pain. We want their pain to go away so they will feel better so we can feel better. We make our happiness dependent on their happiness.
Trust me, I get it… as a mom of four I understand this very well.
But over the years I have come to realize that if I didn’t let my children experience their own pain, without claiming that pain as my own, I was short-changing their experience. It became about me. It became my pain. This puts an awful lot of pressure on a child: suddenly he or she has to manage his parent’s feelings instead of his own.
I have learned that I have no right to my child’s pain.
I have also accepted that when one of my children is in pain, it doesn’t mean I have done something wrong or that I have failed to shield them in some way. Believing I had the power to protect them from pain and suffering had caused me a lot of… pain and suffering. Because, invariably, my children’s feelings do get hurt… and there ain’t nothin’ I can do about it.
What a relief! It was a responsibility I had taken on and one at which I was doomed to fail. It is not possible to control anyone’s feelings but my own. When we think otherwise, we’re giving ourselves a false sense of power and control.
Yes, I know, it can be very difficult to do when it comes to the ones we love, especially our children. But do it we must. It is the only way we can show up for them: as adults; as parents; without fear. The message we give them is: I love you, I am here for you, and you will get through this.
As Abraham says: The best gift we can give our children is our own happiness.
Lin Eleoff blogs at theWORSTmother.com and she coaches women on issues of parenting and weight.