Have you found yourself at times wondering what is your responsibility and what is not your responsibility in your family relationships?  Do you find yourself wanting to solve your adult children’s problems?  Or find them wanting to give you advice about how to live yours?

Having clear boundaries and knowing the difference between being responsible for yourself and responsible to others can go a long way in allowing you to love more freely.

What does responsibility for mean?

Growing up, I thought it was my job to be responsible for everyone around me. I got kudos for being the “responsible one”.  My brother had health difficulties and my father worked three jobs, so I often took on the role of keeping things rolling smoothly.

Since I got such strokes for that growing up, I continued that pattern of “people pleasing” through my adult years. I made sure to “be the helper.”   I, of course, had advice and knew how to fix “your life.”,

However, that blurred the lines for what I was actually responsible for. I now realize I am only responsible for my own actions, thoughts and self care.  I am not responsible for the way anyone else lives their life.  I am to let go of that and let God take care of their lives.  I have enough to do taking care of my own life. (This does not pertain to parenting small children.)

Being responsible for means I am responsible for my self-care, my health, to speak up for what I need or want, to express my viewpoints in a kind and considerate way.  Several of you may say, of course.  When you’ve been a people-pleaser, these can be new territory.  What if the family around you doesn’t agree with you?  Speaking your truth authentically can take courage, yet is love in freedom, too.

What does responsibility to mean?

However, we each have a responsibility to care for others. We can support them in their lives in a variety of ways. We can listen, We can give help when asked.  We can check in to see how they are doing. We can share the love.

The difference is I don’t have to fix anything.  I don’t have to come up with solutions.  I am walking by their side for support, not giving advice (unless asked).  I am present.

For example, today my daughter called to report on something she had done that she felt proud to complete on her own.  I didn’t set it up, I had no responsibility in seeing that she got it accomplished.  I did provide her with information to make connections as encouragement, but that’s all.  She had to do the footwork.

Needless to say, after that call I was smiling from ear to ear because 1) she shared her accomplishment with me unsolicited and 2) she followed through on something good for her without any of my brainpower worrying about her or prompting her to do so.  How freeing is that! God took care of the details and I am grateful.

How does that allow you to love more freely?

When you have your own “stuff” to take care of, by being responsible for your own wellbeing, you have the energy and wherewithal to do so.  If necessary, you can ask for help. In prayer, in talking with others, and have the brain space for reflection to work on your own issues.

I found I had the headspace to write more efficiently and effectively once I surrendered others’ issues over to God.

Now, when offering support, I can be there for others, but I am no longer swirling in my head for solutions to problems that are not mine to solve.

Trusting God and praying can make a big difference in how to approach the concept of being responsible to someone else. Through prayer, you can see much more clearly how to support without taking over.  God continually reassures He has your family members or friends or even world events best interests in mind.

What about you?

Is this an area of struggle for you?  Do you want to rush in and fix things for others?   What is yours to do and what is for others to do? These are the key questions,  when so many challenging times confront those we love.

May I pray for you and me?

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for revealing our own responsibilities to us. 

You Yourself go before us and will be with us. 

You will never leave us or forsake us. 

Thank you that we can count on You. 

Help us not be afraid or discouraged but to

Be clear on our own responsibilities and to

Trust you to care for and support our loved ones as they wrestle with their responsibilities. 

In all our ways we will acknowledge You 

And You will direct our paths,

In Your name we pray,


Let me know how I might support you in making a change like this in being responsible for and responsible to and/or pray for you.

Nancy Booth wants to create safe spaces for you, helping you find ways to have two-way conversations with God.  She loves encouraging you to look for ways He is at work. Nancy is a spiritual director and writer.  She would love to accompany you on your journey of discovery to hear and see more of the God who delights in you.  Peace, hope and freedom could be yours Contact her today.