Hal Runkel is a family therapist and the author of “Choose Your Own Adulthood.” In this video, he explains why parents are not responsible for their kid’s actions. The following is a transcript of the video.
The greatest lie about parenting is that you are responsible for your kids.
I know, that sounds crazy, you’d think, “Well who else would be responsible for them, except me?” But here’s the question. Parents of teenagers are always frustrated with kids not taking responsibility for themselves. Not taking responsibility for their stuff. Well, why should they take responsibility for themselves if you’ve always been taking responsibility for them?
‘Cause what you’re doing is saying, “Look, it’s my job to get you to behave better. It’s not your job to get yourself to behave better. It’s my job because I’m responsible for you. And that means I judge everything about myself as a parent is how well I get you to something I need you to do.”
And that always causes this incredible power struggle because we’re dealing with something, someone that has a mind of their own. It’s not my job to manage my kid’s behaviour. It’s my to help them to learn to manage their own behaviour. Which means I’m not responsible for them, and the choices that they make, I am responsible to them, for the choices that I make, because here’s the truth: I can’t control any of the choices they make.
My child’s a minute old, she’s deciding what will and will not go into her mouth. We know she’s hungry but she’s not eating. I’m not deciding her not to eat. She’s deciding that. Now, it’s not based on some decision tree algorithm, right? She’s a minute old. But I’m not making that decision, I am responsible to her for doing everything I need to do to put her in the best position possible to make a good choice.
What she does after that is up to her. I am not responsible for what another person does. I’m responsible for what I do. And here’s why that’s great. It’s I’m actually in control of that. I can control how I behave. And it’s amazing when you stop trying to control how your children behave.
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