Having responsibility and being responsible can be a great thing.
Though, not everything and everyone is your responsibility. Especially when it comes to family conflict or separation.
You may feel as though you are responsible for your parents' happiness, loneliness or ‘making everything better.’
If you feel like this or can relate to this in any way, you are not alone.
It is really important to understand that your parents' separation is not your fault.
What Is Responsibility?
A person has a responsibility when they have a duty to deal with something.
This something may be a job, homework or making sure that you have a shower every day.
Responsibility may also be over another person.
For example, parent/s are responsible for their children until the age of 18.
So, you are likely responsible for a lot of things in your life.
Having responsibility can be a great thing; it can teach us to take ownership of our behaviour and control our actions as best we can.
What Is MY Responsibility?
Well, it depends. Every individuals’ responsibilities differ from one another.
You may have responsibilities around school or work, or you may be in charge of feeding your dog daily.
Whatever your responsibilities are, take a minute to think about them and how they impact your life.
What Is Not My Responsibly?
This is where it can get tricky.
Sometimes, it is hard to differentiate between what is your responsibility and what is not.
Consider the following examples:
1. Your parents are separated and live in separate houses. If you are with your mum, you worry if your dad is lonely and vice versa.
2. Your parents are constantly fighting. You want both of your parents to be happy, so you might cancel your plans, stay home and ‘try to make things better.’
Here, it is important to focus on what is in your control and what is not in your control.
What is in my control?
Focusing on your actions to maintain a healthy relationship between you and your parents.
What is not in my control?
Fixing your parent’s conflict.
It can be tough to accept that your parent/s may be lonely or unhappy.
However, fixing this is not your responsibility.
Let’s pause for a minute and think about what this really means.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t care for your parents. Showing care and love is important in maintaining a healthy relationship.
What this does mean is that you cannot control the actions of others, and as such, you are not responsible for the consequences.
You might be thinking, ‘that sounds good, but it’s really tough to put that into practice.’
And it is.
Despite knowing that your parents' conflict, separation and feelings are not your responsibility, you might still feel as though they are.
If your parent is unhappy or lonely because of their divorce, this is not your fault.
Remember, you have little control over the actions of others.
You parents' decisions are not your own.
What If I Am Made To Feel Responsible?
There may or may not be people in your life that make you feel responsible for their happiness.
This is still not your responsibility.
Let’s consider another example:
You may have a parent that prefers you spend more time with them over your other parent. When you choose to see your other parent, they get upset.
This is not your responsibility.
Here, you can control how you react to your parent being upset about you seeing the other parent. You can voice that seeing your other parent is important to you, your happiness and your relationships.
What you cannot control is how they react.
It is really important to know what is right for you.
Knowing what is right for you will help you understand what is and what is not your responsibility.
Let’s Be Realistic
After many years of understanding that I cannot control the actions of others, I still struggle to understand that their feelings are not my responsibility.
You may be feeling torn between focusing on yourself and taking on the happiness of others as your responsibility.
It is tough. But knowing and understanding that other’s actions are not your responsibility will make you tougher.
The people in your life matter and you do too.
Understanding what is and what is not your responsibility can help you focus on your happiness and your goals.
You’ve Got This
Because you matter too.
Although not being in your shoes, I aim to understand and honour your unique position in this world. Please feel free to contact me by submitting a contact form here or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.