Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Blame Game© - Part 1

This article first appeared in the summer 2004 Independent School magazine.

Game Instructions

Players: At least two adults and one child.

Equipment: A pointer finger on each adult. Note: A board is not necessary, but the game becomes more intense when the child claims boredom at school or the adults are bored with their own lives.

Game Play: The adults establish goals and expectations for the child. As soon as the child does not meet the goals, adults begin to point fingers at one another, attempt to shift responsibility, and blame the other adult, asking what he/she did to interfere with the child not achieving the set goals and expectations.

Time Limit: The appeal to The Blame Game © is that the Game can be played forever — all throughout life. So long as there is a child and the adults who care for the child are willing to set goals and expectations for the child, blame will always hover.

Winning: When one adult backs down and accepts the blame or when the child accomplishes the established goals on his or her own.

Variations: Insert a grandparent as one of the adults or introduce one or more of the following: divorce, job change, or move to a new school. Then watch The Blame Game© accelerate. Also, the Game can take on an interesting flavor when two educators gang up on a parent or two parents corner a new teacher.

* * * *

Maybe if we look at blame, not as a game but try to analyze it without expectations set,
we can circumvent the inevitable emotional strife, work in the best interest of the child, and create an environment that is productive and supportive of the child.

Blame defined:
blame vt
1. to consider somebody to be responsible for something wrong or unfortunate that has happened

2. to find fault with somebody (used in negative statements and questions)
blame n responsibility for something wrong or unfortunate that has happened *

How often do we find ourselves as parents and teachers mired in blame, losing sight of support for the child? Throughout my years as a parent and educator, I cannot count the times I have listened to parents and teachers blaming the other for a child’s perceived failure. Too much time is spent on assigning blame to the other parent (especially in dysfunctional families), or to the teacher, or from the teacher to the parent, or from the teacher to the administration or vice versa. Somehow, we inevitably lose sight of the objectives by reverting to blame, which often is the catharsis of choice in dealing with our own frustrations.

Blame can be found in all forms and in most cultures, and never fails to touch our lives. I distinctly remember reading Rising Sun a novel by Michael Crichton where the author carefully differentiates between American and Japanese cultures, analyzing responses and approaches to a problem. The story was clear about how Americans perseverate on the need to assign blame for the problem or mistake and the Japanese tend to side-step blame and go directly to correcting the problem.

* Encarta World English Dictionary, 1999 Microsoft Corporation

To be continued . . .

1 comment:

Lyn Lomasi said...

Excellent ideas here. :-)