Your Kids Don’t Owe You Jack (Or: Sometimes Life Hands You The Hard Lesson)

Talk to the hand

It was Mother’s Day morning and I woke with high hopes. After all, I’m a mama and I give a lot. This was “my day”.

Except it wasn’t. You see, it’s easy for us since we travel full-time to lose track of the day and my husband and son didn’t even remember that is was Mother’s Day.

I was sent into a tailspin of emotions and painful thoughts. “How could they forget?” “How dare they forget?” “I’m not important to anyone.” “I’m just the doormat.” “I’m that forgettable.” “Well, screw them both.”

Pain, suffering, anger, resentment, hurt…it all started pouring out.

Not because any of it was real. But because Life was giving me the opportunity to DIG IN and discover where I held these feelings and ideas that were causing me pain, instead of joy, that were keeping me in misery instead of inspiring me to create.

So I dug in. I allowed myself to open my heart to healing. And in the space I created to release the old stories that were keeping me in anger, resentment and disconnection these are the words that spoke to me…

(P.S. It sounds rougher than it was. It was actually filled with a lot of love and glimmers of freedom.)

Now that I have your attention let’s please make one thing clear…

You chose to have children.

You chose to be a caregiver, to take on the responsibility of providing for your child’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Your kids don’t owe you thanks for your own decisions.

They just don’t.Β They are here to live their lives, growing and learning in a way that makes sense to them.

They aren’t here to meet your needs.

That’s your job.

It’s your job to meet your emotional needs. It’s your job to fill yourself with love. It’s your job to care for your own well-being, give yourself the things you love or want and make sure you are happy.

So, are you?

Are you loving yourself? Are you making your well-being a priority? Are you giving yourself everything you need to be the parent, the partner, the person you want to be?

No one else is responsible for it. Just you.

And here’s the Truth…

When you can honestly answer “Yes” you will start to notice that others treat you with the same care and consideration you treat yourself.

And when you are honest enough to know the answer is “No” you will notice that others treat you with the same care and consideration you treat yourself.

I sat with those words and those questions…was I giving myself love? Was I making myself a priority in my own heart or insisting to others that I come last?

And it hit me: All year long I refused their generosity. I made it out to seem I didn’t care about silly little things like celebrations and gifts. I shut down their very desire to love on me by insisting they shouldn’t. I could even remember times where I insisted that Mother’s Day wasn’t important. And although I had been making peace with those things inside myself that kept me from receiving, they had years of experience with my refusal. Why would they have cause to remember a day I insisted they forgot?

I made peace with my feelings of inadequacy after those words rang through my heart. I made peace with my thoughts and felt peace in my emotions too.

I discovered I am worth celebrating, I am worth showing my family how I want to celebrate my own mamahood. I’m so worthy of it that I can do it for myself.

And in an instant I accessed the freedom and the joy in my heart that was missing.

It was about two instances later that my son walked in, heartbroken that he had forgotten Mother’s Day. If I had been in my anger and resentment I wouldn’t have been able to meet him with compassion. (I probably would’ve seen to it that he felt horrible or forevermore remembered me as a raving bitch.) But I was so deeply in love with my own mamahood and ready to celebrate my own Self, that my arms went around him and I told him it was only my responsibility to make myself happy and that wasn’t his burden. That my love for him ran deeper than that.

We then went on to plan a rockin’ Mother’s Day together. ♥

Hey sweet mama, can I support you?

I know how damn hard it is to fill our own cup when you’re working so hard to fill everyone else’s.

That’s why the start of the Organic Parenting e-course is dedicated to just that – showing you how to consistently, effectively, wonderfully fill your own cup.

So you can shine. Not just as a mama.

But as the vibrant woman you are.

Ask yourself: What’s stopping me from meeting my own needs?


45 Replies to “Your Kids Don’t Owe You Jack (Or: Sometimes Life Hands You The Hard Lesson)”

  1. Oh my goodness, this is so true. Time and again I have heard mommas bemoan the fact that their 3 year olds (or 5, 7. 9 whatever) has just so hurt their feelings and the child is not behaving as loving (respectful, dutiful, etc) as they should. All I thnk is please don’t put your feelings and emotional well being in the hands of your child. You will all fail and be miserable.

    It is absolutely not my children’s job to fulfilll me, fill that whole, love me as no one has etc. That dooms us for a very unhealthy, sad relationship. It is my responsbility and mine alone, um not my husband’s or partner’s, to take care of my emotional well being.

  2. it used to drive me crazy when dd would be upset and “someone in my life” (internet is too small to name names or lables) πŸ˜‰ would tell her to stop crying it was making her feel sad or angry or this or that OR when she would say “now don’t cry or you’ll make mommy feel ______ (fill in the blank)” it didn’t take long for me to nip that in the bud and explain that my daughters feelings and mode of age appropriate communication were her’s and “dear someone in my life”, your feelings are YOUR own and you, as an adult, have a choice in how to responded to my daughter but could not pin her own feelings on anyone else….please take some ownership. πŸ™‚

    this is a great reminder! thank you.

    1. Yup. Exactly what I’m speaking to, passing our reactions, our actions or our desires off on someone else to fulfill. So extremely unhealthy.

      It’s easy to imagine how such a burden in a child’s life would manifest later in their adult world.

  3. That’s why I’ve taught my kids that we make our own ‘happy’. And when my 3.5 year-old daughter gets upset because things don’t go her way and tells me, ‘I’m not happy.’ I let her know that it’s her problem and something she needs to work through on her own. Doesn’t take more than a minute for her to decide she’s happy again and all is well.

    1. Oh ouch, I can’t imagine telling a child it’s “their problem”.

      I’m sure your words here are very different than the actual encounter, so I’m really just speaking here to clear up any possible misunderstandings from others who might be reading.

      If my child says “I’m unhappy/angry/etc” my role is not to point out her problem (he’s already aware of it) but to listen and validate. By listening and validating their experience we empower them to process through their emotions without the added emotion of feeling as though we’re not there for them in an unconditionally loving manner.

      Because until they are ready for the independence (and they’ll make it clear when they are), our role IS to take responsibility for their well-being, emotionally and otherwise. Responsibility shouldn’t be confused with ownership, though, just as our guidance shouldn’t be coercive.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion, Michele. It brings up another important layer. πŸ™‚

      1. In our house “happy” is not the only acceptable emotion. We are all happy, sad, tired, excited, angry, scared, etc. and they are all valid emotions. They all have purpose. I do take responsibility for my children’s emotional well being at this time. Some day I won’t but today is my opportunity to teach them how to handle and process ALL emotions.

        But I don’t have to be happy all the time either.

  4. Oh my…LOVE this. I wish a few of the people in my life (ahem, MIL) could understand this. Thanks, Tara. This post rocked! xo

  5. I didn’t have kids for this very reason…I come from a long line of women who didn’t know how to do this and I knew I didn’t know how, either…until I really became aware and started practicing. I have three stepkids for whom I can now model it…

  6. “It’s your job to meet your emotional needs. It’s your job to fill yourself with love. It’s your job to care for your own well-being, give yourself the things you love or want and make sure you are happy.”

    This is hard for me, Tara. I totally understand your message in the post but I am having a big problem with meeting my own emotional needs because so often what I would choose for myself would end up making my children miserable so I choose to do nothing for myself. For example, I would LOVE to spend some time alone with my mother but my children (ages 7, 5, 3 and baby) become very agitated when I leave them behind AND they would be jealous.

    So how do I meet my needs without trampling on theirs?

    (I know there is no short answer here….. )

    1. Mmm, good question. And no, the answer isn’t short or simple. πŸ™‚

      There is a lot that can be said here about healthy sacrifice vs unhealthy sacrifice, family dynamics and co-creative compromise, the plethora of creative possibilities, the black/white way of viewing our needs vs. their needs.

      Going back to what we’ve discussed elsewhere, can you connect to your own ability to create a dynamic that is a win for everyone or see what is running deeper in this circumstance, much like with the other kids in the park? Does that make sense? (Email me if you’d like me to elaborate.)

    2. Can I also chime in here?

      Maybe the kiddos wouldn’t feel so jealous and “left out” if they have the opportunity to spend special time with someone they want to…maybe it’s even your Mom. But time they can choose, not for childcare or family visits.

      Is that a chance you can explore? Giving them special visits of their own?

    3. My kids are the same as yours! 7, 5, 3, and 14 mos to be exact. Anyway, I’m chiming in because I don’t think it is your responsibility to meet every last one of your kids’ needs (impossible anyway esp with multiple children) or to make sure that they never feel jealous (not possible either and can actually be a hindrance to growth).

      It definitely takes a village to raise a child. I am finally learning with my fourth to let go, but of course by “let go,” I am sure I mean something totally different than the mainstream. We still co-sleep, nurse, etc, but I work evenings (my husband cares for her then), and my husband and I go out on dates (and she is in the hands of a loving, trusted caregiver whom we both know very, very, very well, love, and respect and who parents similar to us). As we create boundaries as well as opportunities for ourselves, our children will come to accept and respect them just as we respect theirs. For example, my 5 y.o. used to cry when I left, said she would miss me, etc, but as we’ve discussed what’s helpful and important for mommy, how she is with her daddy who loves her and takes care of her just as much, she is now completely fine and shouts “Bye! I love you mommy!”

      It was hardest for my youngest because we couldn’t explain things in words, but it was either I got a job or we didn’t eat (literally), so I got a job. Now, she has a close, healthy relationship with daddy and trusts him just as she trusts me.

      I think sometimes as moms, we take on too much responsibility for our children, and we need to let others step in. I was so wrapped up in my kids for so long that I was hindering them more than helping them. Yes, when they are young as ours are, they require a lot of time, energy, and tender care (I don’t think this ever changes!), but we also have to set boundaries for ourselves and just know, that when handled with love, our kids will come to accept them and be perfectly okay.

  7. i’m trying to decide why i find this perplexing… i think, it would just never cross my mind to expect my kids to fulfill my emotional needs….the idea that they ‘owed’ me that. i do think that by talking about our feelings or reactions to things, while still owning them for ourselves, we can encourage an empathetic and compassionate attitude… because how we treat others does affect or contribute to how they/we feel…the energy that is exchanged…whether or not, philosophically it should or shouldn’t. if my child states he is unhappy, my response is usually, ‘i’m sorry to hear that. what do you need right now?’ if i can accommodate him i will. if i’m feeling unhappy, i don’t expect my kids to fill the void, but i won’t hesitate to share what i am feeling and what i need in that moment-space, a hug-whatever. while i don’t have an expectation, i do have a hope that there will be a degree of empathy/compassion that will allow my child to understand. i find there is a trend of thought that would have parents wipe themselves clean like a blank slate so as to not infect our children with any unwanted preconditioned thought processes, value systems, personality traits OR expectations…when i envision what that person would look like, i see a robot, mute, devoid and emotionless…is that what is required to allow our children to become fully who they are without any real input from us? should we constantly tiptoe around words and semantics so we don’t screw them up? why is who we are, what we think -and what and how we share that with our kids cause for concern these days? also, sometimes, we can be quick to judge others and make blanket statements about what the truth is and what you should do, who you should be in order to be a stellar parent… we all have our own truth and it it usually evolves and shifts… i say, trust yourself, trust your process and be authentically you without apology and that’s okay! thanx for the post, because whether or not i’m completely on topic here-it sure got me thinking and processing how to articulate thoughts that have been ruminating. πŸ™‚

    1. Great comments Laurie!

      I think a lot of people do think that or reflect it with statements like “Don’t make me angry.” or the equivalent. And many moms will be so emotionally wound up in their kids that their kids have to walk on eggshells to make them happy.

      In any relationship, when we expect someone else to make us happy (or blame them for our unhappiness) we’re creating an unhealthy dynamic for all involved. No adult is a victim to the actions of others, and so emotional discomfort is always our own to understand. And no child should be the emotional caregiver to their parents. That’s a burden that breeds insecurity.

      I think what you’re talking about here is influence versus ownership. I totally agree! We will always influence our kids; not influencing them is impossible. But we don’t own our kids, their reactions or emotions and neither should they own responsibility for us and the way we feel about thing. The dynamics you describe are a perfect example of acknowledging influence without placing blame or forcing ownership.

      However, just because our influence is going to inevitably shape our children’s worlds doesn’t negate our responsibility for owning our own crap, healing our own past, breaking the unhealthy cycles or patterns that are in our life or families, etc to give them the best environment for growth and learning possible. After all, what is human nature that does not seek to grow, evolve, understand more or do things better? That would seem pretty robotic, devoid, and mute as well. πŸ™‚

      So yes, authenticity is crucial, being human is crucial, showing our children that we are whole and that includes our emotional self…absolutely crucial, IMO. But also showing them our honesty when we make mistakes, our desire to better ourselves as human beings and as parents, and our desire to support them as they do the same.

      I’m glad you brought up judgment. If you’ve read my blog and my own personal journey with judgment, you know it’s an important point for me. I agree with everything you say here. But also the nature of my work and my blog is to share MY Truth. A large part of that Truth is about trust for oneself, but also for our children and Who They Are. Nope, not going to be for every person wherever they are in this stage in their life. And that’s okay! I’m only sharing my Truth with those whom it resonates it. Anything else *would* be judgment. πŸ™‚

      Great convo Laurie! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  8. This is so right on. and interesting.

    from my personal life experience I often say my mother should have adopted dogs. she wanted children to unconditionally love her and get rid of all her issues from her childhood and that just wasn’t going to happen. I recall talking to my just older sister when we were teens and saying how we were all jealous of her that my mom would only want her around and the rest of us weren’t allowed alone time (something at a premium with 5 kids). and she responded that it was terrible for her she was my mom’s cheerer-upper…she had so much responsibility and really, it wasn’t great.

    I get so aggravated with parents who say “my child owes me for providing them a home and food and clothes” (this is most often when I am reading christian blogs on how to make your kids do chores and such) really? then you shouldn’t have had children, because, imo, that is OUR responsibility as parents to provide that. how the heck do we expect kids to provide that for themselves and what are we going to do to them if they don’t “meet their family responsibilities?” kick them out when they are 7?

    and emotionally – I try to be empathetic with my son. he’s sensitive and often friends get tired of him crying and tell him to stop. I try to not do that (there are times when he’s just crying to make noise and I tell him to stop but as a mother its easy to read your child’s cries, ya know?)…I will often tell them “he can feel whatever he wants, those are his feelings and feelings are not bad, we just need to give him the right tools to act them out appropriately” I hate hate hate when my one friend threatens to take away privileges because she doesn’t want to hear him cry. that is SOOOO not okay with me and I’ve had to step in and say that is not going to happen, if you don’t want to take him I will but don’t discount his feelings or make him think having them is wrong. when he is acting in a way that I can’t help him – like crying hysterically or shouting and hitting – I will ask him to calm down and say “what can I do to help you, use your words to tell me so we can work together to change this situation to what you want it to be”

    the other pet peeve of mine is when parents punish their kids and say “you made me do this” e.g., I had a sister who was physically abusive toward her son and she would beat him and tell him he made her do that and when I told her “no you have control over you no matter how he acts” she got mad and we didn’t talk for years. I try to help my son understand the consequences he receives because of his behavior but I tell him over and over, I control me. you control you. we cannot control other people. I think that is one of the biggest problems parents have, they want to control their kids but are unable to control themselves. and its an endless loop of anger and frustration.

    I try to show and explain to my son that we are both responsible for how we act. and how we act toward each other. so even if he’s (or heck if I am) mad its not okay to hurt each other by saying mean things or hitting or shouting. but alway always it is okay to feel what we are feeling. I’ve even tried to come up with some ideas how he can appropriately get his anger out, and I work on that for myself.

    anyway, your title said it all I really appreciate you saying it!

    1. I get what you are saying about the whole mother thing… 5 kids in our family too, and I used to be told I was the golden child etc.. Like I wanted to be, and where did it get us? I don’t speak to my mother, and 2 of my sisters. But its my fault because I chose happiness over constant fighting and passive aggressive relationships with them.

      I will say this. I do provide a roof and food. Its my job to do so. I get that. But it BURNS me up when I go work two jobs to keep us afloat and people don’t understand why I’m asking my kids to put their laundry away or to sweep. I can only do so much in a day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with kids needing to help. There is nothing wrong with a child taking pride in doing something well. I don’t like doing dishes, but I do them. I do them because I love my family and they need clean dishes! I have a grown child living at home rent free while I help pay for college. I do expect more from him. The teen girl?? Well yeah she is going to do chores. If she doesn’t she is in her room texting… did I mention the pics I found on her phone (Which is now locked so she can call family only) which made me take a good long look at how our relationship is. She took for granted that we would do everything, while she did nothing. Do my kids owe me chores? No. Do they owe me respect ? Yes. Because I have ALWAYS respected them!! Just tired of being told I’m ruining my kid by making them do chores. I should have started younger as now house cleaning time is a fantastic time for all of us and now we actually have more time together. And the teens behavior?? Total turnaround since being a part of the chores. She likes helping care for her family!

      Totally agree on the “You made me do this” excuse for beating kids..WRONG!! .. I do, however, tell my children what I expect up front. Then if they choose to go another direction, well if we don’t make ice cream that night because they made the choice to not listen… they made the CHOICE. For example.. if we are going someplace and I say “Ok we have to leave by 8a.m. so please pack your bag for the car tonight. If we are late we will not be able to go fishing, so you know up front what is at stake” and the next morning we run late because they didn’t pack their bag, we don’t go fishing. Learning about choices is tough, and I feel this does help them learn about consequence. Like DMV saying time to renew your license and you don’t… well you made the choice to recieve that ticket!

      1. Asking for and peacefully working toward cooperation is not a bad thing.

        I think what makes the difference is the environment of the cooperation. If kids are *made* to cooperate…well, that’s not really cooperative.

        But I disagree that anyone owes anyone respect. You deserving respect is a given. You always deserve respect. That doesn’t mean you can force it.

        Compare it to the idea of a woman owing a man love because he loves her…love, respect, cooperation. They are things to support and work towards but they don’t count for jack if they aren’t freely given by choice.

        1. I get that, yet i can’t sit back and be disrespected. I’m lucky that i am given respect freely most of the time.

          I have gotten blasted many many times over here where I live for me giving my kids allowance for grades, yet not paying them anything for chores. I’ve taken MAD heat for even asking them do chores. When I walk out of the house to my job, thats when I get paid. i don’t get paid to do laundry or dust. I feel the same way about their chores. Its a given, as we all need to coexist in one house, that the work needs to be shared. I get flack for paying them for good grades. Really? They go out of the home to work for something every day. I’m considered mean because I don’t pay them for putting the clothes they wear away! Yikes..Hopefully my kids won’t have to work at a job they don’t intensly love. They don’t love school, but they go and they make the best of it and always give the best they have. Why shouldn’t there be a reward?

          I can’t force my kids to do anything, but I can respectfully teach them I deserve common courtesy. I do get that a majority of the time so I’m happy. You are right about the owing. I geuss I should change my thought to I deserve respect, not that I’m owed respect.

          I geuss you can tell the chore thing is my major beef these days.. I try to let it go, but when a kid grows up they need to at least have clean clothes right? I want my kids to be able to go out in the world and do anything they can dream of without being hindered by easy life skills.

          1. “You are right about the owing. I geuss I should change my thought to I deserve respect, not that I’m owed respect.”

            I think much of it comes down to perspective.

            I have the perspective that things occur in our lives because of our beliefs/perspectives. We can’t see something we don’t believe in…like my video the other day; you can’t live in a world that is flat if you have the belief that it’s round (and vice versa, like many believed centuries ago). Our beliefs will shape the world we live in because they shape our actions, reactions, thoughts, feelings, words, everything. And they plant seeds that may take years to bloom.

            If you take the perspective that kids will treat a person poorly or not do chores because they are naturally selfish or must be made to do so, that’s what you’ll experience. It’s likely because the seeds for that behavior were planted long ago by the way we interacted with our world and our children according to those beliefs.

            But when we change our beliefs…deeply…we also change the way we interact with the world and others. And that changes the things we experience.

            This is obviously a much bigger topic than I can expand on in a comment (which is why I created the Digging Deep ebook). But I hope it gives you an idea of my thought process and how we create an environment that supports *everyone*, including us as parents, without force or control. πŸ™‚

      2. Charlotte, I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids pitching in around the house. in fact, I think there is much wrong if they do not. and I think its very important for kids to learn there are consequences from their behavior. well good for all of us to learn! πŸ™‚

        I have a hard time with respect. Because I have learned we all have a different expectation of what it means to show we respect someone. I think I am respectful to my parents when I don’t tell them exactly what I think of them and just let them be who they are and live my life separate from them and their *crazy* expectations. they think its only respectful if I do exactly what they tell me even if, when I did live with them, due to mental illness, what they would say to do would change repeatedly and inconsistently with no warning.

        I’m not sure how I’ll resolve that with my son. or what I’ll even expect as he gets older.

  9. I really liked this post and discussion. I have to admit i have an anger problem. and a patience problem. I know i do.. which is the first step right? I’ve been trying to listen to myself and hear what i am saying and why. It is very hard though. I never feel like my kids owe me anything but “yeesh will you just stop and listen to what i am saying and go put your boots on?!?!?!?!?”
    My mom brings out the old “after everything i’ve done for you” I’ve been a parent for 25 years” I empathize, she had me when she was 16. And is now 41, it’s a looong time to be a parent. but I know that I don’t OWE her anything.
    I do love her though. πŸ™‚

    1. Sam, I know. I finally asked my son the other day “can your first response to me please not be no”

      and it is hard, when I do something nice for my son to think “geez I just spent time and money on you and now you’re going to act out?” makes me not want to do nice things, buy nice things, etc. but that’s not how kids work, they are so in the moment and I’m trying to be more so too. I just try to remind myself that we both enjoyed what we did and I need to let.things.go. once its done, its done. ya know? I mean for years I would stay angry at people for a long time and its hard not to do that with your child. but it doesn’t serve him to learn that and it never helped me resolve anything to do so so I try not to with him. its hard. hard hard hard. its something I work on everyday. he says sorry and I have to get over it. but thats healthy for me and him. ya know?

      I don’t think anyone has it easy as a parent. but, for me, while I am still working on myself and its certainly unpleasant seeing my three year old shout in anger and looking like I’m sure I look somedays. I try to see how I want him to be as an adult. and I try to remember that every interaction is a chance to do it right. even if the last ten were wrong. every interaction is a chance to show him I love him and give him the tools he needs to be a successful, emotionally strong adult.

      my mother kept telling me how everyone said she should have an abortion with me blah blah blah finally when I was about 30 I told her then you should have, and I wouldn’t have had to live this crappy life with you constantly acting like you did me a favor having me. made her never say it again. I mean really? why do we owe our parents for having us? they were getting something out of it, it wasn’t like it was this completely altruistic decision…I will have a child and give him everything and expect nothing in return. clearly I wanted a child. I have joy everyday having him. and I hope he turns out to be a great amazing adult. and part of me knows I am getting that out of having a child. to prove I am not my mother. I won’t recreate the childhood I had. and I can love healthily and appropriately. so why kids don’t owe us we certainly have some expectations from having one, right?

      1. Wow, this has sparked so much conversation, it was really interesting to read through the comments. Since becoming a parent 8 years ago I knew I needed to break some cycles of my own childhood. I love my parents dearly but they can be self absorbed and short tempered and I feared those traits as they didn’t always leave me feeling great as a kid. And some times I am self absorbed and short tempered however, through lots of reading on positive and kind parenting I have learned that caring for yourself spills over into caring for others and makes it so much easier to do so. Many times it’s not my kids actions it’s my reactions that are the problem. I have learned when I am positive and kind (not necessarily happy) my kids are more open to cooperating, chores are not a burden for me or them and respect is given freely as it should be. I fall “off the wagon” of course and more often that i would like but, when I do, I try my best to forgive myself and give myself some space so I gain a new perspective. If I have a hard time getting back into the groove I pick up a book and re-learn the positive techniques that have worked in the past. Ultimately, when I give myself the love, kindness and space to do what fills me up you I am able to parent in a whole new way. A way that leaves everyone feeling empowered and important.

  10. Thanks, Tara. Great post.

    I was struck by how spot on the last bit was. It really is most interesting to see the shift in how people treat us, based on how we treat ourselves. At the same time, because I am completely fascinated with being curious about how people move through their lives, it’s interesting to watch people who haven’t awakened to these patterns receive the same treatment they are trying to avoid over and over.

  11. You have to just do what works for you. Everyone should do what works for them…what works for their family. Forget about being judged. Forget about over analyzing. Just live. The way that *you* thrive. The most amazing people I know came from very effed up childhoods (mine included). I wonder how my kids, growing up in a family that loves each other unconditionally, will turn out. I seriously wonder some days if I will eff them up by giving them a peaceful, loving childhood.

    1. The challenge with doing “what works for you” is that many people don’t knows what works and what doesn’t. We’ve become so disconnected from ourselves, our kids and our innate intuition and we instead listen to the cultural lies that say that kids are not whole or worthy of personhood.

      Many parents (and non-parents) follow this “conventional wisdom” thinking that’s the only way it “works” and never being given opportunities to question it or consider alternatives that actually encourage love, cooperation, and mutual respect.

      That’s what this blog is about…to offer organic alternatives to conventional wisdom for those looking for it.

      Of course all of the alternatives “in action” is much more complex than this one blog post was talking about. πŸ™‚ You can read through the archives or subscribe if you’re interested in knowing more.

  12. Thank you for this reminder. I go through seasons of responding as the kind of parent I want to be where mutual love, respect, and cooperation thrive and then when life changes happen, when things get hard, I default to the controlling, impulsive, reactive mom I don’t want to be. My goal is to be consistent and treat my children as the human beings they are no matter what is going on in MY life. That is the stability they need and deserve. My goodness, why is it so hard for us to get that children are people?!

  13. Wow has this thread opened up discussion at our house! Its been super cool actually to see just how awesome my kids are!
    #1.. they get good grades for THEMSELVES!!! YAY!
    #2.. I asked them if they felt like I put too much on them chorewise. One child actually said she wants to do more!(And yes, my first thought was “Did a new Ipod come out??” I squelched the thought as negative)
    #3..So I talked to my teen girl about my happiness. She said that right now its tough for me, and she knows that, BUT she feels I do a good job of being happy anyway. She said she actually has learned that her happiness is up to her, not her friends, from me. She does try hard to do great in what she does, but its not just for me its for herself.
    #4 One child likes me giving freedom of thought. I always tell them noone can TELL THEM HOW TO FEEL… that irks me, and I can’t deal with kids being told oh no you don’t feel that! How does someone know how someone else is feeling!?

    We are working on how to define what we all think respect is. It should be a joint project. This discussion has been great.. I just love how its made me think. I also love that my kids are alot more independent in the thinking department than I ever knew!!

  14. Awesome!!! This is so true and such a good point to remember – we have to take the high road- when our kids push our buttons, push us over the edge, we have to be stronger than that – strong enough to handle their strong emotions no matter what.

  15. It is not about Jack and who owes who. The moral ethics required (which are available to all people to integrate into the fabric of who they are) for right living with mutual regard for all people (starting with those in our households and communities) is very much rooted in Jack. It is not about owing, it is about embracing responsibility, compassion, uplifiting and engaging in more than ones own selfish self interest. Life is much bigger than one liners that say “You don’t owe Jack”. This is the attitude that supplies indifference and indifference results in the ills we see all around us. Time to grow up.

    1. Hi Donna! I see this struck a personal chord in you. πŸ™‚ You may want to read this post.

      I’m disappointed that you don’t seem to have read past the purposefully attention-grabbing title to see the real message of the post.

      In order to create the things you mention above you must first create them in and give them to yourself. Placing that responsibility on your children creates neurotic kids constantly trying to appease. Taking that responsibility on yourself models self-responsibility to your kids. Without first filling yourself with your own love and care how can you hope to inspire your children to learn those principles for living?

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  16. I read this before and have just re-read it and realised you wrote it on my birthday! It is very fitting. I would love to show it to my mom, who even (in some ways especially) now that we are adults is so controlling of my sisters and me and so dependant on us to make her happy, to the point of being angry if we hang out together and haven’t included her.
    The sad thing is I think if I were to show it to her she would just cry and say it is mean of me.

  17. I haven’t had kids so my comments on this topic are just theoretical, but I very much agree with everything Donna just said.

    Contributing to household chores was part of life when I was growing up. Eg tidying one’s own room, setting the table, helping wash up etc, according to age and ability. NOT because my oarents felt they were owed this, but because we were encouraged to see ourselves as oart of a household teamβ€”everyone contributes even if just a little. However, once these chores were done the rest of our time was free. My parents too insisted on some ‘down time.’ They weren’t overly conservative or religious, it was just their belief we could all take some responsibility for the things we shared, like meals and a clean house.

    I’ve seen some of my friends always putting aside even the small things they enjoy (a particular TV show, spending a few hours with a friend) to do things for their children that the kids might well be able to do for themselves. Of course you don’t give small ones chores they can’t yet handle, but surely teenagers can start taking more on?

    One friend, a retired teacher and now a herbalist, says she sees many young people who are like ‘hothouse flowers’ (her words), all at sea when they leave home because there is now no one to pick up after them, provide for them, drive them everywhere and remove every little obstacle.

    Therefore, I think this is actually a very important issue, going way beyond the family. The responsibilities we learn and teach at home can be expanded into wider society in adult life. No because anyone is owed anything, but because we get satisfaction from putting our own two valuable cents worth in.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Rowan.

      I understand this is very much considered the norm and thought to be necessary to raising a child. But common doesn’t always mean best, and it certainly doesn’t mean justified.

      The type of personality you’re speaking of sounds more like the product of “helicopter parenting” where the kids are never given freedom and the natural responsibility that come with it. Assigning responsibility (i.e. chores) is just not the same thing and so kids grow up to feel helpless in “the real world”.

      It’s interesting how many parents read this and heard “chores” when in fact the point I was making is how we expect our kids to meet our emotional needs with things walking on eggshells, kindness, hugs and kisses, or automatic respect.

      But in fact if more parents were meeting their own emotional needs (and felt the security and confidence of that), they would see those things coming to them from their kids, as well as other superficial stuff like “chores” or cooperation.

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