Written By Lyndsey Merrill
So, I often think about how to be a better parent. I don’t stress about it, but I do think about it. I am also thinking about how to be a better wife. Once again, no stress, or beating myself up, just thoughts. I think about how to make my relationships better, and how to be a happier person and what I usually come up with is: If I am a better person in general, I will be a better mother, wife, friend, etc and happier! My relationships will thrive if the focus is on myself, rather than the thoughts I used to have (and still do at times) of, “How can I get this person to realize they are wrong and I am right.” The answers are in each of us, so to change my life and relationships for the better, I’m starting with the man…well, woman in the mirror. Yes, this song happened to be playing while I was on a run last night, but it was the perfect title for this post!
I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer, If you wanna make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself and then make a change! ~Michael Jackson
Just replace “if you wanna make the world a better place” with “if you want to make your relationship a better place” and its basically the same thing. Changing your personal world is the most important change you can make anyway.
Lately, a large amount of my interactions with my daughter (6) have been a bit strained. When she talks to me she is irritated, and if I were being honest, the reason she talks to me likes she’s irritated is because I have been talking to her like I am irritated. Its gone so far that its one of those which came first scenarios, you know? Did she talk to me with irritation first, which then triggered my irritation, or was it the other way around?
Its been on my mind because I feel pretty darn sad that our relationship has veered off course. Its not to say that she “shouldn’t” ever be upset with me, or that she can’t stomp around the house when she’s angry. That is just part of being a kid and working through your emotions. That isn’t the part that concerns me so much. My concern is for the regularity with our irritation with each other.
If I were to focus on my daughter and why she isn’t behaving as I think she should, I have put myself in victim mode, and I have come to a point in my life where I realize I don’t want to be the victim anymore! In victim mode, you have no control over changing your situation. If you focus on why you have been wronged and all the ways you think this or that person should change here’s what will happen:
- You will be powerless to actually change anything
- Your relationship will suffer due to your negative thoughts about them
- Nothing will change! (Not for the better, anyway.)
If you shift the focus to you, your results and mindset will be drastically different:
- You are the only person you actually have the power to change
- You are modeling self reflection and the idea that you are responsible for your actions(none of this, “You made me angry!” talk.)
- Your relationships can begin to thrive because you can accept your children for where they are at rather than pressuring them to change to please you
Starting with the man in mirror means you take responsibility for your feelings, actions, and perspectives. With my daughter, I can’t make her speak to me with kindness, but I can speak to her with kindness. I can’t make her change her attitude, but I can change mine. I can’t make her like me, but I can like her. My theory is that if I begin to treat her with love and respect that she will want to do the same. Let me be clear though, I am not doing this to make her change her attitude. I am doing this because I know that I will feel better about things if I am a kinder mother to her.
I remember being a kid, and I remember how most of the adults in my life treated me like my wants and needs always came second, and sometimes third or fourth to theirs. I had to live my life on their terms, and it was enough to make me resent my parents and all the other adults who didn’t see me as a person, but as a kid. Apparently being a kid in our society is akin to being a second class citizen. (Read this great article on Childism here!)
I want my daughter to know her wants and needs are important. I want her to know that she is as much a part of this relationship as I am and she is just as important! The only way I can do that is to focus on my part in this battle that I am having with her, focus on why I am irritated with her, on why I talk to her with irritation and then change it. Just because she is frustrated with me doesn’t mean I have to meet her there. Just because she yells at me doesn’t mean I have to yell back. And what I want to focus on the most is not blaming her for how I am feeling towards her. That is my responsibility alone!
I want to show my children that you, and only you, are in charge of your life. There is nobody to blame for your situation, and if you want something better it is with in your power to have it! What better place to start than our relationships?
Lyndsey Merrill, Liberated Parenting
Do you struggle in your relationships with your children? Do you tend to blame, or do you self reflect? I would love to here your perspectives in the comments!