Do you know what the most popular game is in the entire world? Could it be Facebook’s Farmville with 82 million active users? Halo? Super Mario Brothers 3? Monopoly, which is sold in 80 different countries? Risk? Scrabble? Battleship? Fantasy baseball with the Cubs winning the World Series? Oh, that is fantasy, isn’t it?
Actually, it’s none of those. The most popular game in the world has been played by every human being since the Garden of Eden – it’s called the Blame Game, and most of us are experts at it.
In an article in Reader’s Digest entitled “It’s Not My Fault,” Pete Hamill coins a word called “victimism,” which is what happens when we blame other people for our problems. And as long as we blame others, we won’t take responsibility to make any changes in our lives.
I’d like to suggest some ways that families can stop playing the blame game and be victorious over victimism.
First of all, be a good example as a parent. How do your kids see that you handle injustices? Do they observe you accepting responsibility or do they hear you blame your boss or coworkers? If we play the blame game, our kids will become experts at it. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up raising mini-victims who go through life blaming teachers and bosses and friends and spouses.
Secondly, accept no excuses from your kids. I wonder what would happen if each of us would make our home a “No excuse zone”? Maybe we even need some signs that say, “No Excuses.” We actually made these signs available on a Sunday morning in our church and encouraged our families to display them in a prominent place. Here’s something you can try. Whenever you hear someone start blaming or making excuses, make the sound of a buzzer to signify the blame game is over. Simply say, “Mommp!”
Here are some practical things to teach your kids.
• Life is not fair. Kids need to learn that life does not revolve around them.
• Take responsibility. Children don’t become responsible by accident or by magic.
• Enforce consequences. I came across a very helpful article called, “13 Ways to Really Mess up Your Children.” Here’s one way: “Always do what you can to keep your child from having to experience the consequences of their behavior.” Pay their traffic tickets. Pay for overdue books. Pay their parking fines. If their paper is late, insist that the teacher is unfair.
• Don’t play the victim. When kids try to shift the focus away from their responsibility and start playing the blame game our job is to say Mommp! and then shift the focus back from excuse to responsibility.
• Don’t make excuses for them. Sometimes parents can inadvertently fall into the blame game by making excuses for their kids. For example, when you see your young child ignore an adult don’t say, “Oh, she’s just shy or tired or not feeling well.”
This is impossible for us to do on our own. But through faith in Jesus, we’ll know that He took the blame for all our shame. With some work, we can avoid the blame game in our homes … and without blame; we’ll never be the same.
(Pastor Brian is the senior pastor at Pontiac Bible Church: www.pontiacbible.org)