Print
PDF

Samuel Plays the Blame Game

I was on the ferry a couple of weeks ago during one of my short sojourns off the Island. I made a beeline for the cafeteria and found myself sitting in a section packed with families.

Beside me was a small child in a high chair sitting with his parents who both looked about 14.

The child was playing with his food and at times he would ever so casually push something to edge of the tray and then, with a sideways glance at his father, he would flick it onto the floor.

Dad noticed and said, "Please do not throw food on the floor, Samuel. Your food is for eating."

The little boy sat back in compliance but a short time later he was up to the same tricks.

This time dad turned to him with a stern look that mesmerized Samuel. Looking down, the father said "Who threw this food on the floor?" Several beats passed without motion or sound. Then Samuel responded in a small voice with a wobbly question mark at the end: "Jesus?"

Everyone around broke into a chuckle, including mom and dad.

I shared the amusement but I also thought that this kid was already getting a handle on how to blame someone else for his troubles. It doesn't take long to get into the swing of deflecting blame. We get a speeding ticket, it is because the police have a quota to fill and they happen to pick on us; we miss the ferry and it is because they are on time for once; we lose our glasses, it is because someone cleaned up and didn't put things back where they should be.

On a broader scale, we blame the government for our financial woes, we blame the schools for poor performance, we blame the food industry because we are getting fat, we blame industry for taking jobs away, we blame the economy for our debt.

Whatever happened to accountability? When was the last time you heard someone say, "I am broke because I spend too much" or "I got a ticket because I was speeding"?

When we attribute our behaviour to an outside factor, we are essentially giving up control over our lives. "I have no choice. I can't do anything about it. It is the way it is. I am helpless."

This kind of thinking turns us into a victim. Victim thinking is exactly the opposite of taking responsibility.

Start early and instill in your children ownership for who they are and the choices they make. Accountability frees us from riding the slippery slope to low self-esteem, powerlessness and helplessness. If your children can take responsibility for their lives, you can enjoy the rest of yours.

Little Samuel got away with blaming Jesus, so blame will look like a pretty effective way out the next time he needs an excuse. Think about it.