Let’s face it, being a parent is oftentimes overwhelming. Come to think of it, so is marriage.

The most important people in your life are probably the members of your family, but they are also likely the people who drive you the most crazy.

Don’t worry — if this is true for you, you’re completely normal.

There are two factors that contribute to the pressure and stress of family, particularly parenting:

  • One is our emotional reactivity,
  • And the other is a lie that many parents believe.

1.  Our emotional reactivity is our own worst enemy.

Families are systems. One person impacts another, and each member feeds off other members within the system.

Look at it this way – have you ever had a time when you were anxious about something, and your kid’s behavior escalated because he or she was feeding off your anxiety? Or your spouse had a bad day, and you can sense it as you enter the house, even before you set eyes on him?

The simple truth is you probably spend a great deal of time trying to control things you cannot possibly control your child’s reactions, behaviors, choices, and even your spouse. I can’t blame you for trying, really. I’ve done it, too.

There’s a great deal of pressure with parenting today.

We are bombarded with messages about putting family first.  Keeping our children safe in a crazy world. Being saddled with the idea that parents are the ones molding the future of our world.

It’s overwhelming.

So rather than spending a great deal of energy on things you can’t control, spend time working on the things you can. This starts, and ends, with you.

Photo by Nina

2.  The lie:  You are responsible for your child.

Many parents have bought into the idea that it’s our job to get our children to think, believe, feel, and behave like a good person. We are responsible for their life. After all, they are a reflection of ourselves. Right?


Hear me out. They are a member of our family and will act out our family patterns and beliefs; hence the importance of the first point. But ultimately, your child is his or her own separate being.

We are much more responsible TO our children than we are FOR them. Our children have been granted the same power of choice as us. And if you think you can program your child to act, think, and behave a certain way, you’re fooling yourself.

As parents, we do have tremendous influence on our children, but we have more responsibility to them than for them.

And our main responsibility to them? Be consistently cool in the face of ever-present change.

After all, the only thing you have control over is yourself.

Marital application: To apply this idea on another level, read this again and replace the word children with spouse. The same idea applies.

Would you agree?  How does your emotional reactivity bite you back relationally?  And do you agree that you are not responsible for your child?

Source ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Runkel