It’s Not About Me. My New Parenting Mantra.

I’ve now been a parent for 18 years–WOW, RIGHT? I’ve also been a Pediatric Psychologist for longer than that, working with children ages 2-18 and their parents.

I am not sure what has been my greatest learning experience: the thousands of families I have worked with or having to handle my own two children. What I am sure of is that every stage of my children’s development has brought a new mantra into my parenting repertoire and a new pearl I wish to share with every parent I speak to.

So, here is the pearl from raising teens. IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.

Perhaps, this could apply to other age groups as well, but I have found it applies quite perfectly to the teen age group.

16-year-old son speeds after repeated warnings. Say, “It’s not about me.” He is doing reckless behavior. You’ve given him many opportunities to drive safely. Now, calmly give a consequence. But, being angry at yourself and losing control of your emotions and feeling like a failure is not helpful.

15-year-old daughter says she hates you. Say, “It’s not about me.” Being her age means dealing with intense, and, at times, unpredictable and violent emotions. Her friends tell her to hate you. Her hormones tell her to hate you. She doesn’t hate you. She hates adults, she hates rules, she hates her raging feelings. In six months, or, perhaps, in six hours, she will love you. Walk away calmly and give her space. Don’t lecture her about all the things you’ve done for her because “it’s not about you.”

17-year-old son won’t do homework. “It’s not about me.” It’s his responsibility to do his homework. He knows he needs to do it. He knows the consequences. He is not doing it for you. His choices don’t reflect on your parenting. He is not working on proving you are a terrible parent. He is working on learning to be responsible. Ask if there is anything you can help him with and step away. Him going to college is, you guessed it, “not about you.”

Now go practice the mantra.

Published by Dr. Elena Mikalsen

I am a Clinical Psychologist and a novelist.

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