Jean Paul Sartre once wrote about responsibility saying,
“That to be responsible one must see themselves as the UNCONTESTED author of an event or thing.”
This struck me because there is not one parent that would not want to raise a “RESPONSIBLE” adult. We want our young people to take initiative, ownership, and yes, responsibility for their actions and the outcomes earned in their lives.
Before I get too far into this post I want to state that this is not going to be a post about raising responsible young people even though I think it is an important concept. What I am more motivated to write about today is the power of the STORY we are telling ourselves about our kids. Over the years I have listened to thousands of parents tell three different stories about their kids that I believe damages their ability to grow and develop.
Have you ever found yourself telling yourself any of these stories?
Story #1: If I stepped back and decreased my involvement in my kids life, then they would collapse and not be able to manage the tasks and expectations that they currently face. In other words, they would fail.
Story #2: My kid is being mistreated. It could be playing time in a sport, not given a fair chance to make the play, not being recognized, or some form of mistreatment.
Story #3: The coach is out to get my kid.
As a parent, I can think of many times that I have written each of these stories at different times for my kids in response to a situation they were in. I had ample evidence to support the story and I was so sure that this story would serve me and my kid.
After further reflection I have come to realize that these stories do nothing to help me prepare my kids for the world they will encounter and the mindset they need to thrive through the challenges they will undoubtedly face.
The stories we tell ourselves about the events of our lives, as well as our kids lives, either aim us toward empowerment, creativity and resourcefulness or gets us stuck in learned helplessness often characterized by blaming and projecting.
If we truly believe that our INVOLVEMENT is the only thing keeping our kids from immense failure, then what are we saying about our kids? If our kid is truly being mistreated and sabotaged from the opportunity and recognition that is earned, then what skills and mindset will be needed to thrive through this when it happens in the future? If our kid does truly DESERVE better than he/she is currently receiving, what level of internal strength will be needed to convert this in the future to resilience and inner strength?
For this reason I offer THREE DIFFERENT STORIES:
EMPOWERED STORY #1: My child is capable or can learn to thrive though any challenge with the right mindset, resources and skills.
EMPOWERED STORY #2: When my child faces a lack of fairness, earned recognition and opportunity, I will train him/her to stand strong in their convictions in spite of a lack of fairness.
EMPOWERED STORY #3: In spite of my perception, I will equip my child with the tools to maintain their personal power in spite of the perception of injustice.
Let’s generate stories that our kids can use to RISE ABOVE their situations and thrive through the challenges they not only face today but will undoubtedly face the rest of their lives!
Let me know your thoughts, questions and/or experiences in the comments below.