How can we avoid blame as we work to raise and educate children? To begin, I recommend reading Dr. Michael Thompson’s insightful Independent School article “The Fear Equation” (Spring 1996). It will give you a good view into communication between parents and teachers and how adults are the engineers in the special project of raising/educating children.
Whether we are dealing with homework responsibilities, apportioning screen time, analyzing grades, assessing athletic playing time, or setting curfews, here are some strategies to employ when you suspect that a child (your son or daughter or your student) has not met certain expectations or agreed upon goals:
• Ask the other invested adults first rather than assume neglect or mistake on the other adult’s part.
• Approach other interested adults, asking how can we help the child move forward.
• Always temper urges to bring relief to one’s own frustration or ego by immediately resorting to blame.
• Reflect on a viable solution and present it to the other adult(s), asking for their thoughts and ideas.
• By all means solicit information from the child on why he/she has not met expectations. Be ready to (re)adjust expectations to meet the child’s abilities.
• Make goals, objectives, or conditions concrete for the child by using paper and pencil, constantly referring back to the written word well before completion dates.
• Strip away the emotion when dealing with the child, parent or teacher and envisioned expectations. Move forward on (re)adjusting goals and expectations and always work in support of the child.
In our world of parenting and education, blame lurks everywhere and begs to be used. Let us as parents and educators work together on behalf of our children, avoiding The Blame Game©—a game that invariably cripples, distorts and interferes with our ability to work for our children, supporting them as they grow and mature. Avoiding blame with one adult will multiply to others . . . and others . . . to a whole generation. I vividly remember the prophetic song, The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics. It was on the Top 10 chart in 1989, and if you listen to an easy-listen radio station, you will inevitable hear it. The song’s lyrics begin
Every generation Blames the one before And all of their frustrations Come beating on your door
Let us agree to leave The Blame Game© in a box on the shelf.