“Some people find fault like there is a reward for it” ∞ Zig Ziglar
Remember when you were a kid and broke your mom’s favorite vase or your dad’s golf club? Fear of discovery ate at you. When the deed was uncovered, the search for the culprit started and you had two choices: confess or lie. Usually, the second one only added to the guilt you felt and the punishment you received when the truth finally came to light. To this day I dread being told, “IT’S YOUR FAULT!” Don’t you?
The Fear of Being Blamed
The shame of reproach negatively impacts children’s self-perception. And the humiliation they feel encourages them to lie or try to shift the blame to someone or something else. (How many guilt-evading children have wrongfully condemned the family dog?) The stigma remains when they get older. Often, they develop an aversion to any kind of criticism. They’re robbed of input that forms the basis for growth.
Parents have rightly stopped blaming their children for making mistakes. But many have also stopped holding their children accountable. Coupled with praising them for the most mundane acts, children grow into immature adults.
The Benefits of Being Responsible
Rather than blaming children when they make mistakes or act out, it’s better to hold them responsible for their behavior. The benefits are twofold:
- Being held responsible sounds a lot like being blamed. But children also can be told they’re responsible for the good things they do. In this way, they learn there is a positive side to exercising responsibility. Maturity comes in part from understanding this duality.
- There is no stigma to being responsible. The person responsible for good things, such as scoring a winning goal or discovering something that will benefit the world, receives acclaim. The person who accepts responsibility when things go wrong is respected for being honest. No matter how you feel about his policies, most people like the sign President Harry Truman had on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here!”
Even Mature Adults Hate Being Blamed
Do you point your finger at your spouse? The blame game in a marriage causes permanent damage. But when spouses hold each other mutually responsible they incentivize themselves to work together to find solutions to the challenges they face.
Next time you’re tempted to find fault, consider the long-term effects. Will your children mature into responsible adults if they learn to loathe criticism and shift blame to avoid being stigmatized? Are you strengthening your bond with your spouse?
Forget finger pointing. Instead act responsibly and expect responsible behavior in return. Your family and friends will love you for it.
How do you hold your children or spouse responsible?
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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved
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