Look what you made me do (DW# 780)

One of the worst kinds of non-apology is blaming the other person when they are the hurt party.
You made me do that
You made me angry
It is your fault that I did what I did
I had no choice but to do what I did because of what you did
It was your behaviour that caused me to act as I did
These are ways of blaming the offended party for the behaviour of the offender. Can you think of a more offensive way to behave? This is the language of abusers when they use power, control and manipulation against the victim to deflect attention from their actions. It is called blaming the victim and it is a VERY oppressive way to behave.
If we are on the receiving end of such talk, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot be held responsible for someone else’s actions.
And as parents, we need to be very careful that we do not say any version of the following:
I did not want to hit you – you made me do it
You are making me scream
You are giving me a headache
You made mommy or daddy very angry
You made mommy have an accident

Statements like these are very confusing for a young mind. We would hope that children can, in time and with guidance, learn to take responsibility for their behaviour, which is hard enough. We do NOT want them to accept responsibility for causing other people’s behaviour.

When children are given the message that they are at fault for their parents’ actions, it causes a lot of internal confusion and turmoil and leaves them open to blame themselves in later relationships. Children who are blamed will have trouble setting healthy boundaries in adult relationships. They will have a hard time distinguishing what they can and cannot control and what is unacceptable behaviour.

"Adulting 101" is to practice recognizing that despite how anyone else acts, we always have the choice of how to respond.

We need to take responsibility for our actions and our choices, regardless of how anyone behaves around us or triggers us. And if we lose it from time to time (which many of us do because we are human), can we practice being accountable for our misdeeds rather than blaming the victim for our poor behaviour?

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