“You did it – it is your fault!”
Many claim credit for positive things that occur; cleaning the bathroom mirror, feeding the dog or finding the answer to the riddle on page nine but nobody lays claim to anything negative.“I didn’t leave the milk sitting out!”
“Those paper clips were in the floor before I came into the room!”
“I did write the number down!”
“I didn’t use the last of the toilet paper!”
“The tools were left out in the rain but not by me!”
Mr. Ramirez takes top prize for assigning blame at our house and more often than not, I tell him that I was the culprit rather than have him harping on the girls for some egregious error in judgment. Part of his thinking pattern may be that he is an engineer or has Asperger’s; both contribute to his dogged focus.
Mr. Ramirez’s three favorites are: Leaving the outdoor light on, leaving the basement light on and forgetting to lock either door.
Why is blaming someone so wrong?
Blaming turns any mild mannered parent into a cunning sleuth; before you can assign blame you must first identify the person who did the terrible deed.
Sleuthing to assign blame is a huge waste of time. Think of all the other things you could be doing instead: baking cookies, sorting laundry or changing the oil in your vehicle.
Taking time to identify and assign blame takes time from finding a solution to a particular problem. To me, the ‘who’ is not near as important as the ‘how do we fix this’.
Before you know it, every family member begins to point to the other.
And the worst: Assigning blame adds shame. When a parent says, “You did this,” what a child hears is, “I am bad.” Children often have enough to feel bad about without parents adding to their burden.
The positive focus sounds less blaming and encourages solutions:
How do we remember to put the tools away?
How do we remember to get another roll of toilet paper?
How do we remember to turn off the lights?
The funny thing is that Mr. Ramirez leaves the lights on or doors unlocked more than anyone else.
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her at her contact page.