By Melissa Ford
The #1 wish parents have for their children, whether two years-old or 22, is for their sons and daughters to be happy! Highly motivated by this strong desire, we help our kids acquire all those things we believe will bring them happiness: friendships, top-notch educations, strong values, family vacations, unconditional love, the latest electronic toys and so much more.
These things do bring happiness, but there's a more direct path; it's called emotional responsibility.
Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of responsibility let alone being responsible for their emotions. We'll do and say almost anything when it comes to passing the buck, pinning the blame or pointing the finger at the person who made us unhappy. "You hurt my feelings," or "Don't make me mad!" or one of my all-time favorites I once overheard a frazzled mother employ, "You're going to give your father a heart attack!"
Wow! So much power and we don't even think of harnessing it for ourselves!
Emotional responsibility simply means being responsible for how we decide to feel. Taking ownership of our own responses is where our power lies because we no longer have to be the victim of unwanted circumstances or the people around us. What an amazing gift we bestow upon ourselves and our loved ones when we accept responsibility!
But here's the catch, the only way to teach our kids about emotional responsibility is to live it ourselves.
We are the master teachers, whom our children look to for guidance, love and truth. If our truth is that others make us feel bad, sad, guilty or frustrated then our children will follow suit.
Next time you blame someone else for your unhappiness, STOP! Do something different. Instead of yelling at your son for disappointing you when he did poorly on a test, own your responses. "I got myself angry; you didn't. Now let's talk about your test scores. What will you do to improve your grades?"
When you take charge of your own feelings, you still know what you want (grades to improve) and you're far more creative in the actions you take. Besides, your child can really hear what you are saying because your message is clear and loving not ladened with blame or guilt.
So instead of "What's wrong with you?" or "You disappoint me!" your interaction stays focused on what really matters - helping your child figure out how to do better in school.
And there's an added bonus: You feel good and your child learns a powerful life lesson - emotional responsibility is the key to living a full, productive and happy life!