Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Sarah - posted on 03/11/2015 ( 5 moms have responded )

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A while back someone posted an analogy that referenced the concept: "Not my circus, not my monkeys" . The use of the analogy had to do with controlling what you can control and what parts of a situation are not up to you to handle. Whomever used the analogy, or if someone can explain it a little bit better for me, I would appreciate it! It made great sense in the thread at the time and i can't find it in my history. Thanks!

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Raye - posted on 03/11/2015

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Sarah, it was me that posted it. Here's the basic concept:

When you find yourself getting sucked in to another person's circus, stop and ask yourself this:
1. Does this situation really involve me?
2. If the situation doesn't really involve me, what is my motivation for getting involved?
3. What will it cost me to get involved? We're talking time, money, stress, etc.
4. Can I really bring something to the table that will help all parties get to a better resolution?
. . . . 4a. What are the possible ways to correct what is going wrong?
. . . . 4b. What is going right?
5. What will happen if I decline to participate in this situation?

If you decide it's not your circus, not your monkeys... you can certainly decide whether you stay in the tent and watch the show, but you cannot control what happens there. You may have planned, and set things in motion, but all you can do is let it happen and see how it turns out. Learning which circus is yours can diminish your stress remarkably.

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Sarah - posted on 03/11/2015

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Thank you, it is one of the best metaphors or analogies I have ever read!

Raye - posted on 03/11/2015

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I know what you mean Sarah. There are going to be variations, and different circumstances where you will need to decide when to get involved. My husbands kids live with us, so often it's not my monkeys, but because it's in our home it is our circus. But the stuff that goes on with the bio-mom or what she does at her house is neither my circus, nor my monkeys.

For things that involve the health and/or safety of others' children, you need to weigh the benefit to the child of your involvement with the repercussions of the parents resentment. Adults have to be the children's advocates, since they often can't directly change their circumstances. #4 and #5 are probably the best questions for you to answer on whether you get involved in those situations.

Sarah - posted on 03/11/2015

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Just for fun and arguments sake: what if it is your monkeys but not your circus or vice versa. I care for co many kids of blended families and when I have to talk to the parents, that most often means the bio-parents. Oh how the step parents get bent! they say if a health issue is in their home it is their prerogative to be a private meeting. Or, if their child, step or bio, is involved in a crisis in the "other" home they have a right as well. The circus (home) and the Monkeys (kids) can really help me help parents to understand what battles are theirs and which are just not under their control.

THANK YOU!

Sarah - posted on 03/11/2015

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Yes! Thanks I knew it was someone who posted frequently and it is a great analogy. Love it!

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