Sunday, August 14, 2011

Right Now

"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you
don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or
less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have
problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will
grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive
effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason
and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no
reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you
understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change"

My kids like to place blame on each other.  A LOT.  It's something that I struggle with because I know I've asked the question "WHO DID THIS??" a few too many times.  It doesn't really matter who.  In the grand scheme of things, it really does not matter.  But, I want to teach them to take responsibility for their actions/mistakes.  I don't want to shame them.  I know what shame can do. (just ask Brene Brown.  Excellent book called- I thought it was  Just Me, But it Isn't.) I usually try really hard to coach them through whatever mishap has taken place but what I have noticed that my babes jump very quickly on the defensive tight rope when asked questions about an incident or accusation.   Each one of them gets a look of panic and begins to explain their way out of it...sometimes pulling another sibling into the ring with them.  
All of them...that is... except StellaG. 
She closes her eyes and shakes her head.  OR sticks her little fingers in her ears AND closes her eyes.  She doesn't want to deal with it at ALL.

I don't like blame either.  I never did.  And, I sure used to avoid being responsible for anything.  I could convince any soul alive that I had to do whatever screwed up thing I did.  I don't think I realized how good I was at avoiding blame or fault until I overheard Hailey say one time, "Mom is the worst person to fight with. You can't win.  Ever.  She's too good at it."  See, in my mind, I never thought of it as fighting.  I thought I was just helping someone see my side of things for godssakes.  But I started to realized, that even though Hailey said it respectfully and almost admirably,  I was failing her.  I wasn't teaching her or anyone else  how to actually solve the problems.  Just how to make really good excuses.  She/they need to see me accept responsibilty, too.  Sometimes there just are NO excuses.  So I have tried very hard to relate a little better and admit mistakes.  Use mistakes as a teaching point. 
Things have gone really well for the last couple of years.  MOST of the time, the kids and I will have heated/serious conversations that are respectful and balanced with the right amount of me talking and me listening.  (I have to credit Nick here, too.  He is really good at communicating with kids. The best I have ever seen.  Me included...and I have always thought I was pretty dang good.)   
So as I have thought about all of these blaming incidents, I realize it's not so much the blaming each other...It's  the not wanting to take responsibilty for their part.  They don't want to admit that they have done anything mean or disrespectful because in their minds, that makes them "bad".  And ultimately, they don't want to disappoint me, Nick or Chuck.  Or themselves.

Well hell if anyone can relate to that, I can.  I can't stand to disappoint people.  But I do sometimes.  We all do sometimes.  Sometimes we do BIG things and are acutely aware of the disappoint from others and sometimes we do little things and don't really notice right away.  So now I'm left thinking...How do we teach them to take responsibilty without blaming?  How do I teach the value of making a mistake and learning from it?   How do I successfully guide their freedom of choice so that they know in their hearts that there's no FAILURE in this house? 

I'm gonna keep thinking about this for a while.  It's on the agenda for the next family meeting so I will let you know how it goes.