Parents often blame their kids for their behavior. Many of us have been subjected to the frazzled parent in the store who falls back on the line of “Don’t make me <insert whatever punishment you like>!” After all, it couldn’t possibly be the parent who makes their own choices and follows through on them – it is obviously the child who made them do it. The truth is, that’s a cop out strategy. The choices a person makes in any given situation are exactly that – choices. We are in control of our own actions.
It has long been known in the field of psychology that abusive individuals have generally been abused in some way. It may have been due to another person’s abuse or merely by an experience in their lives. Regardless, the damage is there. The parent who blames their child for their own choices and actions is falling into the role of victim. They believe, whether at a conscious or unconscious level, that they are being victimized by their child – that their child is the one making them angry, frustrated, or upset and is ultimately controlling their actions by forcing them to punish the child, in all likelihood, a retaliatory action. They refuse to admit that they are responsible for their own choices and actions and instead blame their kids. They perpetuate the idea that they are a victim and lash out in an attempt to gain control, ultimately making another victim in the chain.
These parents are also victimizing themselves by refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. They don’t feel good about themselves. Many parents in this situation tend to have a lot of anger or fear built up inside, taking it out on their children in the form of some type of punishment, rather than addressing the true issues. The choices they make will affect not only themselves but also their children. Wouldn’t it be nice to break the cycle of abuse?
I wholeheartedly agree, although it’s hard to remember sometimes b/c it was hammered into my brain as a child.
It is something that Tom and I continually work on – we are in control of our own emotions. We try to own them. Our emotions and actions are no one else’s “fault” or responsibility. So simply, but so rarely seen.
I also meant to say that of course this isn’t always seen in the extreme of abuse. It can be an ordinary conversation/argument/parent-child struggle.