Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Blame Game

Why is it that my first instinct, when something is awry with my children, is to blame myself? My daughter is currently having time-management issues with her homework and what are my first thoughts about this problem?: "We should have never agreed to have a television or a computer in our home because she spends way too much time with them and it is obviously wrecking her life." Seriously, what's up with that?

In reality, I, of course, make sure that she understands that she is totally accountable for her actions, now that she is old enough to do so. But after saying that, I can't help but scour the vast recesses of my brain and wonder where I went wrong. Sure, I sit down and try to ignore her pleas to somehow get her out of the odious task of reading an entire book in one night, all the while thinking that there must be a parenting manual that I can read to prevent a repeat of this situation.

It's amazing how it continues to happen. My son fails to clean up after himself and I immediately assume that because I didn't give him enough chores, he's exhibiting slacker characteristics. I always make it come back to me. What I did or didn't do or how it's my fault because they're JUST LIKE ME.

When my son was about seven years old, he went through this stage where he had a tough time managing his anger. I picked him up one day from school and was told by the day care director that he had hit a little girl. I remember taking him to that girl's house so that he could apologize in person and sobbing hysterically because of the shame that I felt at having been such a bad parent. Really. Back then it was my personal struggle with being a working mom, but again, I took the blame and put it squarely on my shoulders. (He, by the way, is now a very low-key college freshman who has absolutely no anger issues.)

I wonder if there comes a point when I will just look at them and think: "Why are they like that?" instead of thinking: "How did I make them become that way?"

The other part of this equation is that when my kids are great, I never take the credit. I always figure it's a fluke of nature or some recessive gene from my husband's side of the family. I kid around and say that it's all because of me, but I secretly thank the stars and wonder how it could have happened, in spite of me.


At 9:04 AM , Blogger Pub said...

You obviously care a lot about your children and in this blame culture it is tempting to follow the trend and blame everyone but yourself. I think in this case though you're right, it's not you who is to blame. In fact no one is to blame but the key thing is that if something is wrong you're doing something about it.

So nice to hear

At 11:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this guilt is part of being a mom.
Society helps too...think about it.
A teenager blows away classmates and teachers and you hear people say "Where were his parents?"

I struggle with the same issues.

Just read my blog where I am obsessing about getting my house organized and the kids on a better routine.

At 3:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have put it so well. I go through the same intense feelings when one of my kids screws up.

It feels like a failure on more than one level.

First, was I too playful with them? not consistent enough? did I give them mixed signals?

Then, it is because I feel let down. Too often they take their privileges for granted, don't say sorry, don't show appreciation ... on and on.

And finally, it is a feeling of being used / taken for granted.

Ah, teenagers :-(

At 12:06 PM , Anonymous Laura said...

I used to take so much onto myself, but not so much any more. You know what clarified a lot for me? Getting divorced. (No, no, I am not suggesting this as a parenting strategy!)

Suddenly all those bits of my three kids (20, 16, and 12) that drive me crazy? That's their father coming through, nothing to do with me... LOL

But seriously: never underestimate the power of genetics. Even when I was married, I raised those children solo for very large chunks of their lives, (he travelled, he was uninvolved when he was home), so who should have the largest impact on them? Yet their father's imprint is indeed all over them, every bit as much as mine - for good and for ill.

At 1:29 PM , Blogger Dak-Ind said...

i am always saying to my husband "we are such bad parents for letting him _______ "(fill in the blank). Sometiems it is as simple as eatting pizza at 8 months old with the baby (then i tell the husband...we are such bad parents, hes going to end up with a weight problem) or as difficult as telling my number one son that his dad really loves him no matter what (then i tell the husband... you know if i REALLY loved him i would tell him he could pack up adn come live with us).

its a mom thing. at least i am not alone in it, and nehter are you!

At 5:52 PM , Anonymous netchick said...

Oh geez! You aren't to blame! I agree with novaks8... It's society.

I can't imagine how guilty I would feel if I had kids, but I don't.

Saw you at Michele's and thought I'd drop by.

At 6:10 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Typical momma stuff, Karen, we all do it (or at least some of us do).

Michele sent me.

At 5:49 AM , Blogger Star said...

Hi Karen. Michele sent me this time, but I am a regular here. Having raised 3 daughters I know it cn be frustrating.Many times I wished they had come wiht instructions. Obviously you care about raising your children to be good, caring people. Just get used to the guilt. It's part of Momhood.
Merry Christmas!

At 8:14 AM , Blogger Marie said...

So you get all the blame but none of the credit? ;-) Awww, Mom! You're doing a great job...

Michele sent me today.

At 2:36 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

I think it's part of the Parents' Code of Conduct to blame ourselves for every slight deviation from socially-accepted norms and to deflect accolades when they succeed beyond our wildest imaginations.

It's what we do, and it helps explain why they more often than not end up as successful adults who can build pretty good lives for themselves.

You're setting a model that I hope I'm able to follow.

At 10:15 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

It is very easy to put on the guilt hat when it comes to our children, trust me I have been there big time with my oldest.
Here from Micheles again :)

At 6:50 AM , Blogger utenzi said...

Michele sent me, Karen.

I think parents accept far too much of the blame for their children's mistakes and indiscretions, Karen. Sure, there's always blame to go around even if the subject is just getting homework done but I think the biggest determiner is the child's personality--and that's unique to that child even before birth.


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