Once upon a time, a young, Hispanic, single mother became an EMT. She worked her ass off to get through school, juggling kids and work. When she got her first assignment, she was sent to a suburb known for catering to retirees, usually from the Northeast of the country. Her supervisor gave her a tour of the facility on her first day. She found it odd that on every computer, on every desk, nearly everywhere she looked she saw a Q-Tip.
“Uh, why are there Q-Tips taped everywhere?” asked the EMT.
“Oh that. Good question. It’s to remind us to Quit Taking It Personal. Q-TIP. One day you’ll answer a call, and it’ll be a little old woman. And you will try to help her, and she will scream, ‘Get away from me; I want a man.’ If you take it personally and back off, she will die. You have to ignore her and do your job,” said the supervisor.
The teacher at the parenting class told us that true story and then related it back to parenting. Often our children behave in certain ways or do certain things or say certain things, and we are so very sure they are acting out to get us. We assign “adult” motive to behaviors that just are. They are not insolent; they’re kids. They’re not ignoring you out of spite; they’re ignoring you because they HAVE to finish their projects. They don’t mean they hate you; they are just so angry they can’t express it. Once you let go of the assigned “motive,” it’s easier to get to the root of the problem and handle it appropriately.
When we take it personally, we let our emotions get the better of us. And when we act in that way, well, we’re killing the souls of our children. Slowly. We want our children to question, to lead, to think for themselves, but we want our children to listen and mind us. Parenting is a balancing act of teaching a child morals, values, and social norms and allowing the child autonomy to be who he/she is meant to be. We don’t want to squash them, so we must give them enough rope and realize that we are the adults and need to act like it.
It works with adults too. We are self-centered people. We assume every action was done to us for some reason, but often what is done to us is done by someone just as selfish as us and did it for personal reason, not having to do with us at all.
So, Q-TIP. Quit Taking It Personal.