One thing about myself that I’ve noticed a lot but have had a hard time doing anything about is my tendency to play the blame game. I know it’s a terrible habit. I know it sets a bad example. And though I catch it afterwards and then try to address it with my children and make it better somehow, I know the damage is often done.
For example, the other day, I was transferring wet laundry into the dryer when I noticed that there was all this slush inside our washing machine. I knew (due to lots of experience) that a diaper or pullup had been washed with my children’s clothes.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Blaming my family feeds into my illusion of control and damages my relationships with my loved ones. Worst of all, it actually makes ZERO contribution to preventing future accidents! #controlfreak #parentingfail #fear” quote=”Blaming my family feeds into my illusion of control and damages my relationships with my loved ones. Worst of all, it actually makes ZERO contribution to preventing future accidents!” theme=”style1″]
I immediately made a big deal out of it. First, I yelled at the kids. “Why do you always leave the diapers in your pants? Why don’t you take them out?” Then the older two kids blamed my 4 year old, Glow Worm. In fact, so did my husband!
I could see that Glow Worm felt really bad and was about to cry. I said, “Stop blaming Glow Worm. We don’t know that it’s his yet.”
I hunted through the washing machine and lo and behold! It was a big kid pull up. I held it up. “This is not Glow Worm’s pull up. This is Cookie Monster (8) or Gamera’s (6).”
The older two kids promptly denied any wrong doing. My husband then piped in, “Well, there wasn’t a dirty laundry basket for a few days so the pullup might have fallen in.” Which, of course, took the heat off my children and focused all on him.
“WHY DON’T YOU EVER CHECK THE LAUNDRY WHEN YOU’RE PUTTING IT IN THE WASH??”
I was super annoyed. I mean, first of all, it’s gross. Second of all, it could really ruin our washing machine. And despite the fact that my husband does most of the laundry in the house, I was giving him a hard time, focusing on all the little things he did wrong and messed up.
Let’s be real. Out of the hundreds and thousands of loads of laundry he’s run, this is only the 3rd or 4th time a pullup has made it into the wash. Also, I’m not sure that each time was his fault!
After a few minutes of grumbling, I apologized to everyone. Which, you know, is an improvement in my disposition. But why did I feel as if I needed to pinpoint fault and lay blame somewhere?
Part of it, I suppose, is because if I can figure out who’s to blame, then we can figure out how whatever it is that I’m annoyed about can be stopped in the future. Preempting future mess ups. But if I’m honest, finding a scapegoat or culprit makes me feel better because then I feel as if I have some control over the random crap that happens in our lives.
I totally understand the need to pin blame on someone or something.
It makes life seem less capricious. That there is some semblance of control over the shit that happens.
Diaper blow out? My husband must not have done the cloth diaper right. Cookie Monster (8) dropped an applesauce jar and needed stitches from the glass shrapnel cutting through his pants? He should be more careful getting things out of the fridge. Sasquatch (1.5) drew all over the carpet and the wall? The older kids shouldn’t have left a Sharpie on the ground.
It’s not that these things are not true, per se. It’s just that, they’re not always necessary to point out or blame the kids. I sound like a jerk and make the kids figure out who to blame versus solving the actual problem or learning anything from the situation. I make the children feel small and awful instead of teaching them anything at all.
Most importantly, I know it doesn’t make life any less scary. Shit happens. Sometimes literally.
Even though I temporarily feel better thinking that next time, this won’t happen because my kids (or husband!) will finally learn their lesson, I know deep down that all I’ve succeeded in doing is making my family feel bad. Gamera, in particular, internalizes my ranting as a judgment on her goodness.
[clickToTweet tweet=”I totally understand the need to pin #blame on someone or something. It makes life seem less capricious. That there is some semblance of control over the shit that happens. #controlfreak” quote=”I totally understand the need to pin blame on someone or something. It makes life seem less capricious. That there is some semblance of control over the shit that happens.” theme=”style1″]
Blaming my family feeds into my illusion of control and damages my relationships with my loved ones. Worst of all, it actually makes ZERO contribution to preventing future accidents! (One look at our frequent ER trips should have made that clear to me.)
I can only hope that since I’m finally starting to notice my behavior after the fact, perhaps I will eventually get to the point where I don’t blame at all. Otherwise, I have no one to blame but myself.