“It wasn’t my fault!” This one sentence from your children can test every bit of godly patience you have managed to acquire in a lifetime. Why? Because it is often followed by a long list of excuses – most of which are just ridiculous.
The reality is your child made a choice – probably not a great one from his or her response. The “it’s not my fault conversation” is merely an attempt to wiggle out of personal responsibility and consequences.
Sadly, we live in a world that actually encourages people to define themselves by their victimhood. While some people actually are the victims of crimes, manipulation and the evil actions of others, many are the victims of their own poor choices. Encouraging them to have a lifelong victim mentality is not in anyone’s best interest.
Why? Because the minute your children define themselves as victims – as the important part of their identity – they become frozen in time. Studies show people who think of themselves as perpetual victims are constantly looking back – their growth and any possibilities of an improved life are lost to a constant state of reflecting on all of the ways they were wronged.
The other thing that can happen when children are convinced they are perpetual victims is that they are robbed of their voice. They assume no one will hear their cries because they are a victim. They are robbed of the healing that can come from speaking out and preventing others from being victimized. They become convinced they shouldn’t have healthy boundaries, because victims constantly have their boundaries trampled upon. They aren’t allowed to believe they can do anything to protect themselves or to move away from constantly being a victim.
Please don’t misunderstand. There are plenty of people who regularly victimize others and we need to work to stop them. Unfortunately though, many of the people who will claim to want to help our children, actually get more money and power from convincing them they are perpetual victims than from helping them heal and move forward with their lives.
So what do we as Christians teach our kids when they believe they are victims or are actually the victims of someone? Peter has a lot to say on the topic. He wrote his letters to Christians who were undergoing quite a bit of persecution for their faith.
If you remember, persecution in those times wasn’t just teasing or mocking. It often involved imprisonment, torture and even death. Yet what did Peter tell them to comfort and encourage them? “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (I Peter 4:12-14)
That’s right. Peter told them to rejoice. In fact, he told them to expect persecution. These people were trying their hardest to do what God wanted them to do and were losing everything in many cases. Yet Peter tells them to expect it and rejoice when it happened. He didn’t want them to get stuck in those bad things that occurred. If you read the rest of his letters, Peter spends quite a bit of time encouraging them to spend their time doing good things instead of constantly bemoaning their victimhood.
Whether your children are the victims of someone who has wronged them or their victimhood is imagined/exaggerated to get them out of their own poor choices, don’t let them stay there. Help them find the healing they need in God. Get them Christian counseling if they need it. It won’t always be easy and healing can in some cases take quite a bit of time.
Help your kids learn to forgive their enemies – even pray for them as the Bible tells us to do. Teach them to accept responsibility when the bad things that happen are actually consequences for the poor choices they made. Then help them move on to the life God wants them to live – worshipping Him, serving others, sharing their faith and more. It really is the best thing you can do for your kids.