It’s important to understand that as a parent, you can’t always protect your kids from every bad thing that could happen to them. Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, one or more of your kids will become a victim to an unfortunate circumstance, an illness or accident or even a crime.
When those truly bad things happen, your child will need a period of time to process and mourn the incident. That is normal and healthy. However, if they stay focused on that incident…if it begins defining who they are, then they will get stuck, unable to fully enjoy the rest of their lives.
Worse yet are children who are taught they are victims from birth. They are told in numerous ways that the world is out to get them and they will always be the victim. Once again, some people will live lives that are tougher than others. Refusing to define yourself or your kids as perpetual victims does not condone what others may do to you or them. It does not minimize the pain their words or actions cause. What refusing to see yourselves, define yourselves as perpetual victims, does is it allows you all to refuse to let those people and circumstances control you and the rest of your lives.
Refusing to define yourselves as victims allows you to process, mourn, forgive and then move on with your lives. You don’t become stuck. You don’t let it keep you from being who God wanted you to be. Yes, it may have some residual impact on you, but it shouldn’t define who you or your kids see themselves as….you should always view yourselves as beloved creations of God, with meaning and purpose.
The difference may sound subtle to you and difficult to really understand. It’s the difference between introducing yourself, “I’m Sam the robbery victim” and “I’m Sam (someone God loves and has plans for), who got robbed once.” The first sentence has Sam constantly reflecting and defining himself through the lens of that incident. The second has Sam defining himself as someone loved by God…whom God has planned good works for…that happened to be robbed once.
Not sure if you or your kids are defining yourselves as victims and not allowing yourselves to live the life God wants for you? Here are six signs of a victim mentality.
- Continually thinking and talking about the incident long after it is over. After the initial processing and mourning period, there may occasionally be something that brings the incident to mind. It may also bring back some of those original feelings. That is normal. If, however, the incident is something thought about almost every day and especially multiple times each day, that can become problematic.
- Constantly feeling sorry for yourself. If you or your child is constantly throwing a pity party, there may be a victim mindset developing. Everyone wants a little sympathy after a bad experience. If the pity parties are held frequently, chances are the one throwing the constant parties is developing or has developed a victim mindset.
- Everything is always unjust or unfair. The perpetual victim also seeks perpetual sympathy. He or she tells every incident in a way that is designed for others to feel sorry for him or her. If that doesn’t work, they may try to convince the others they are also victims.
- Always focuses on the negative. If there are two ways to look at an incident, the perpetual victim will only see the negative one. They find it impossible to see the silver lining, or see some good that came out of a bad situation. Think Eeyore on a really bad day.
- Reframed events. If the teacher fussed at your child’s class, the teacher was just fussing at him or her. Every event is reframed so the perpetual victim was targeted. Obviously, your child will be targeted at times. If it’s constant though, you may be raising a victim or at least more investigation is warranted (for example, if a bully has actually targeted your child).
- Acting helpless. On bad days, we all regress a bit. What adult hasn’t secretly had days when they wished they could be the kid again? Helplessness can manifest itself in a couple of ways. The first is often that there is no action the victim can take to prevent from becoming a victim again. In actuality, there may be several things that can be done to either prevent that type of incident from reoccurring or that will help achieve a better outcome if it were to happen again. If your children are constantly claiming they aren’t able to do things which they are perfectly capable of doing, that can also be a sign of a victim mindset or entitlement. Oddly enough, the victim mindset and entitlement often do appear together. Partially because often victims are told they can’t or shouldn’t do anything for themselves…particularly by predators who many times are also the perpetrators.
You can’t protect your kids from everything, but you can equip them to recover and continue living the lives God wants for them. It takes hard work and at times outside help, but it’s crucial if you want your kids to live a rich, full, Christian life.