“Dad, it’s not my fault!”
My daughter without any prompting jumped straight into justifying the fact that she hit her older brother.
My son standing alongside his sister tilted his head back, rolled his eyes, and replied.
“Come on dad, can’t you see it’s not my fault? All I did was tell her she was wrong.”
The truth is their tension goes way beyond this one event. However, something stood out to me I hadn’t noticed before.
All my children naturally fight for the spot of victim too. From a young age they know if they can secure this spot in any situation they gain sympathy and are off the hook for their poor decisions with little to no consequences.
I can almost hear Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “It wasn’t my fault.”
Have you ever noticed this isn’t just exclusive to children? Watch the news. Everyone is fighting for the spot of oppressed victim. Even those with massive power and influence work diligently to appear hurt by other groups. The voices of those who are truly in need are lost in the choir of those who play the “game” really well. The orphans starve, the mentally disabled go without help, and the elderly widows still sit alone. Why? Because they can’t play the “game” well. It’s not cool to help those who truly need the most help anymore. I don’t want my kids to steal the light of society’s mercy from those who truly need it!
Instead of teaching my kids to join the choir of those pity baiting, screaming “poor me,” I decided to give them another social and relational tool.
I am going to raise them to be active change agents for good! I want to give them tools to see beyond their selfishness and the façade of those who just play the victim. I want them to weep over the children who literally live in Guatemala’s dump or creatively raise money for orphans in Uganda. To do this they have to turn a blind eye to the fakes banging the drum all around us and realize most of their “pain” isn’t really that painful when you look around the world.
Here is what we do.
I will not raise my kids to passionately pursue the place of oppressed victim. I will however teach them to love the oppressed and teach them to creatively work to make society better. I will not raise children taught to live as victims, I will raise cultural change agents. I will put their little minds to work in a positive way.
So here is what we do and some things to try.
- Build perspective. When they hurt acknowledge it and help them, yet always give them perspective. With wisdom let them see and be aware of real suffering. Let them see your compassion and encourage compassion in them.
- Make holidays, even birthdays, about giving more than getting.
- Instead of only asking your kids how their day was at school, ask them how they thought their teacher’s day was, or how their friend’s day was. Get them thinking outside of themselves.
- In sibling rivalry instead of rewarding the child who makes the best case for the victim make much of the child who offers real strategies to improve the situation. You will have to help with this if they haven’t been taught to think this way.
- Teach ethics, morality, and responsibility to your children with the same fervor as you would mathematics or natural sciences.
Our culture is birthing a victim movement. Every group is doing this, from those in power to those that truly have none. Influence through pity is a terrible way to live. Living with creative compassion and empowering others to do so is so much better.
Want more? Check out An Open Letter to my Kids
In our home we define “right” by the teachings of Jesus Christ from the Bible.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.