Have you ever asked your kids who broke the lamp (or did whatever) and immediately heard choruses of, ”It’s not my fault!” and ”He/she did it!”. If so, your kids have already learned how to play the blame game. They know if they can avoid any personal responsibility for something that has upset you, they are also likely to avoid any possible consequences.
Unfortunately, the game is best played using lies and avoiding personal responsibility for one’s choices. Not the best skill sets for a child being raised in a Christian home to learn. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your kids learn to avoid playing the game at all.
- Play a new game. This is more fun with older kids. As they watch shows, see news reports or just around the house, can they catch others playing the blame game? At dinner each night, see if anyone saw people playing it during their day. What happened? What were the possible negative consequences for those who played? Your kids may not be aware they were playing the game or perhaps aren’t aware how playing it can damage their relationships with others. Seeing or hearing about lots of real world examples can make them more aware.
- Play the game in an obvious way yourself. You may need to set up a scene with your spouse if something doesn’t happen naturally. When someone asks you something like, ”Does anyone know where my socks are?”, flip into blame game mode. Be a little over the top dramatic. It’s not your fault. Your spouse was in your kid’s room. The cat walked by the laundry basket. After a couple of minutes of blaming others, ”find” the socks where you left them (like the refrigerator!). You get the idea. Be silly and have fun with it. Don’t copy something that has actually happened in your home or it will look like you are making fun of your kids. Sometimes laughing at ourselves can also be instructive. Younger kids may try to intervene and ”fix” the situation. Don’t let them get too agitated. After your little ”skit”, ask your kids to give you a better way to handle things the next time that happens. See if they can come up with other situations when people blame others instead of accepting responsibility for their actions.
- Have a ”blame” jar. A common strategy for breaking bad group habits, which you may have to adapt slightly depending upon how much money your kids have. An alternative way to play is to place enough money for a family treat in the jar, instead of family members having to put in some of their own money when caught playing the blame game, you take money away from the jar. They can return money to the jar by taking appropriate blame for an incident. This will need to be monitored by parents to avoid cheating. If you are brave enough, allow them to try and catch you blaming others for your own mistakes.
- Read all about it. Read your kids Bible stories and stories from history where people blamed others for their own choices. There are plenty of examples. How might things have gone differently if the person had taken responsibility for their own actions? You will probably need to point out how blaming others undermines trust and how that in turn weakens important relationships in their lives.
Have fun with it, but make it a priority in your home. Taking responsibility for one’s actions is a huge part of repentance. If your kids can’t accept responsibility, they will struggle to be a Christian.