Parenting Tip: We Are Not Responsible for Making Other People Comfortable With Our Children
“We are not responsible for making other people comfortable with our children.” This is a statement I’ve been sharing for years after personally experiencing many situations of feeling judgement from others because of what my child was or was not able to do or how they were behaving.
I spent years trying to make others comfortable with my son and would exhaust myself mentally and emotionally doing so. Eventually I landed on an awareness of how much time and energy it was taking to try and inform and educate others about my son’s differences and then realizing that quite often, it didn’t matter.
Why? A lot of the time, people who judge or are uncomfortable around our children are that way because they have their own desire to control, to know what to expect and to need people to follow along with their *internal rules in order to feel safe. Sure, this is normal for human beings but the reality is that our children cannot be controlled, we don’t always know what to expect from them and they often are quite wonderful at challenging the internal rules of others (which I now love even though it made me very uncomfortable early on before I knew this.).
While I cannot change someone else to have understanding, compassion, empathy, kindness, etc., I can change where my energy and attention goes, specifically in things I do have some influence over, - me - and then using what I know works best for my child. This is what I am responsible for and it feels so much better!!
Example: If we are somewhere in public and my child starts having a strong emotional reaction to something and someone looks over at us and gives us a judgmental stare and head shake, I have two choices. I can use all of my people pleasing skills I’ve got in order to make that person comfortable with the discomfort my child is experiencing, or I can take a few deep breaths, feel my feet on the ground and do what I can to support my child in whatever I think is best given the situation.
That person might offer up what they consider to be “helpful” advice or judgmental comments but I can realize where their advice and comments are coming from (fear, desire to control, internal rules, etc.) and let them flow right on through without sticking.
So the next time you feel that tug to make someone feel comfortable with your child remember this, “We are not responsible for making other people comfortable with our children” and use your energy and attention to support yourself and your child.
*Internal Rules: Rules that we were either taught growing up or have taken on from others or society that often involve the words “should,” “have/has to,” “needs to,” “ought to,” etc. Ex. Kids should eat what is on their plate or they should go hungry.