Filed Under (Something To Think About)

As rare as a pearl in an oyster is the person who takes full responsibility for herself.  When a pearl like this does appear, it is cause for celebration.  Today I celebrate such a pearl – a friend whose recent misfortune could have been cause for her to lay blame and shame.

Having no responses to emails and phone calls to this friend, I suspected a cell phone dilemma.  ”Yes,” she confirmed.  ”The phone was left outside in the rain.”  Friend continued with a sad tale of lost contact lists and that ever-crucial mothering tool – the calendar.

She began, “Who to blame?  I left the phone in the car.  My daughter took it out to play with it and left it on a chair outside.  Then it rained.”

I expected my friend to moan about her daughter’s carelessness.  But surprising me, she said, “What it really comes down to is this:  If I had stricter rules about the use of my phone, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Bravo!  In short order, my friend marched right past blame and regret and through the door of responsibility.  Too often, we blame others for actions that result from our own conditioning or lack thereof.  We fail  to set up clear boundaries and expect them to respect the invisible fence.  Inevitably, they get burned with an accusation like ‘you should have known better.’

We expect children to act like adults.  We need them to be considerate, responsible and intuitive.  But we fail to teach them those very skills.  Regretfully, we use our own short-sightedness against them, and make them pay the price.

Perhaps the gravest error is that a child learns from us the weak habits of blame and defensiveness instead of responsibility for our choices.

Speaking as a typically busy mother of three, I admit that I indulge in lazy parenting sometimes.  And when I do, my kids are quick to pick up the sword.  They start yelling at each other, hurling accusations with barbaric intolerance and disregard. Bearing witness to this direct result of my own indiscretions against them is nothing short of devastating.

So I endeavor to change.  To be a better parent, a better person, for my children’s sake and my own.  And I bow to them in gratitude for being the best teachers I will ever have.

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