Don't Take it Personally

I am finishing up the final piece of my certification process to teach Sanity School in my area and, as with most everything I participate in, I’m reflecting on where I am and where I’ve been in this parenting journey with my own tribe. One of the pieces of the pie in the Parent Impact Wheel of Life is “Don’t Take it Personally”. For so many parents, it is hard to shed that gremlin, especially in the heat of the moment.

As a coach, I often go deeper in my own personal reflections on this one. “Is it really true?” is often a question I ask myself of this surfacing belief that it IS personal. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with us. We are just the innocent witness to a powerful emotion or moment in someone’s life. Sometimes, a tantrum is just a tantrum, and the healthier role is to be present for someone when the world is just too much for them to handle; to help them process that emotion or reaction; to help them plan for a different, more desirable response in the future. What a gift that can be, to hold that space. And what a challenge it can be for those who hold it repeatedly.

While we are long past the toddler years in my house, there are still moments that flare up as my kids test the waters of young adulthood. It’s easy to slip into the blame game, but, for my crew, it’s become even easier to take a deep breath and process what each of us has experienced from that moment. Offering that outside reflection of how someone’s actions or reactions impact others can be a valuable tool to building empathy, self-awareness, and executive function skills. Given that the human brain is still developing executive function through the early to mid twenties, our job as parents isn’t over when the kids hit 18. Fostering a relationship with our kids, even when they might challenge us to remain calm on a daily basis, can prove to be the biggest safety net for their developing brains.

We are their safe space to process without judgement. We are their most intimate of teachers. We are their sounding board in life. It’s often WHY we get the worst of them at times. We know the best and the worst of our kids, our spouses. For me, I’d rather they reserve the hardest parts for me. If they didn’t, well, I just might take that personally.

Kate Barrett