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How to Break Free From Co-Dependency...With Your Kids And Others

Good parents are deeply emotionally connected with children.

This connection is beyond English words, and describing it is a poet's, a songwriter's and an artist's job.

We hurt when our child hurts. We smile when they smile. If our child isn't thriving, it can affect us in profound ways.

This deep connection is normal and healthy.

Yet, if we aren't careful, this connection can be harmful.

At times, parenting can feel like we are a leaf in the wind...we fly where the winds our emotional child...blows us.

This is not good.

PARENT BEWARE: As parents, we want to be careful to not develop a co-dependent relationship with our children...or others. 


"I can only be happy, if they are happy"

-The Codependent Parent


There is power in the practice of expertly managing the emotions that come up in parenting and family life.  


"I want to be a shining light of personal responsibility in my family. I am not a leaf in their wind."

-The Healthy Modern Parent


Here’s five steps to help to get you there.  

Grab one of our Feeling Words document (and maybe a journal if you want) and dive in (Get a Feelings Word sheet here).


1.  Start By Asking Yourself…

What emotions do I feel?

Don't use general words like "angry" or "annoyed". Pick specific words. This is called "labeling".


2. Be Your Own Counselor By Cultivating Mindfulness and Journaling About...

Why am I feeling this?

Why is this emotion so difficult for me?

What else is going on with me?

What should I do now that I know what I feel?

Am I blaming someone? Why?


3. Then, Take Personal Responsibility

What unfulfilled needs or desires did I have in this situation?

Was I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? (Did you need to HALT?)

Were my expectations of my kid reasonable?  

Did I feel supported by my spouse/partner?

Did I feel heard?

How I can own my own emotions instead of blame others for them?

4. Be your Own Emotion Coach…


I am emotional.

I am not my emotion.

This feeling is temporary. It has come and gone before, and it will again.

In the future, I am free to let myself become emotional again...I am free to allow my child/teen's choices to lead me to become emotional. It's ok to be emotional. I am human.

Yet also, I am free to NOT LET my child/teen have that power in my life. I don't have to be a leaf in their wind.

I am free to not allow their choices to have the power to make me emotional. I have choices. I have power. I am free to be content, joyful and satisfied when others are not.

I am my own person.


5. And Finally, Practice Self-Care…

What self-care activity could I do to help me cope with this difficult emotion? How can I take care of myself right now?

[For more on self-care activities, click here.]


The better you understand the context of an emotional experience the better able you'll be to make good choices when you feel it again.

Sometimes this means you may need to take a TIME OUT when an emotion feels overwhelming.  

You can say, "I need a break right now so that I can cool off and take responsibility for these emotions I'm feeling."

If you do, make sure you tell the person how much time you'll take.  20 minutes?  1 hour? 

Learning to manage your emotional life is not easy work.  But it’s worth it! We don't want to give our power away. 

Taking responsibility for your own emotions is an empowering step towards wholeness.



Co-Authored by Sean Donohue and Sean Potts  

Family Coaches

We Show Modern Parents How to Expertly Parent Their Modern Teen Into Maturity and Responsibility 

Click HERE to read “How to Take Your Power Back (From Co-Dependency)”