Nalini Joseph: Let’s stop the blame game early
My son came home from school today with two B’s on his second trimester report card. Although his father and I know he worked hard for his A’s, we also know that he is fully capable of making all A’s, as he has in the past.
After looking morose with lowered eyes for a few minutes, he and I sat down and talked about his grades and how to pull his B’s up to A’s in the next trimester. Halfway through the conversation, to my astonishment, he made a bold comment about not having access to me while doing his homework, as I am often away for meetings during homework time. I began to defend my position, telling him that I’m always home early enough for him to approach me with homework questions and so on.
As I was building my defense, I realized that somehow the resident master manipulator was blaming his less than superior grades on me. I then recalled the frequent heated disagreements between my son and his father about math homework. Why is it that Rohan’s Dad, a mechanical engineer and student of higher math, repeatedly argues with his 11-year-old about fifth-grade math?
After dedicating weeknights and weekends helping our child with homework and studying, how is it that we as parents are explaining to an 11-year-old why we are not at fault for our child’s grades? More importantly, where did my child learn that playing the victim will somehow benefit him?
He’s a smart young man, perhaps a little spoiled by his mom and dad, as he’s an only child. However, I can vouch for the fact that neither his father nor I play the part of victim in our home. I wonder how many other parents are blamed for their children’s mistakes and how many of these parents are tempted to justify their actions to their children.
How do I teach my child at an early age not to settle into a victim mentality? How do I instill the attitude within himself that society owes him nothing; that regardless of his deficits and disadvantages, he is not a victim?
I abhor the thought of my child growing up in America, the land of opportunity, not availing of the plethora of opportunity that is well within his reach. My father, who grew up in post-depression America in the 1940s and ’50s, taught me that if you don’t succeed, it simply means that you try harder, try smarter, and try again. One of the problems that individuals have in our society is the tendency to focus on barriers. Yes, it is extremely important that we know and understand what the barriers to our success are — but we don’t stop there. Once we know what these hinderances are, we figure out how to manipulate our system of thought and action around them.
In a quick “take two” I asked my son who was responsible for his less than stellar grades. Once he realized I wasn’t going to play the blame game, he came up with the right answer. I realized that If I teach him to think like a winner rather than a victim, I must force him to place blame on himself when he is not successful. This ideology may not be popular in current times, when we have to be sensitive to children who are experiencing mental health issues because of virtual school, peer pressure, discrimination and gender issues. However, we adults have to impress upon our children the importance of making and following a plan for success. Hurdles will present themselves – that’s a given. But your child must know that he is responsible for his mistakes as well as his successes. Conquering the situation and emerging a better person is what helps a child rise above victimhood.
Even if a parent is indeed the cause of a child’s bad grades, we still teach that child that the onus is on him to rise above poor parenting. We instill the attitude of “how am I going to solve this problem?” within our children. We teach them that the answers are not going to come from an external source; they are going to come from within; from pondering, strategizing and dreaming about success.
Nalini Joseph is a resident of Salisbury. She is the proud mother of 11-year-old Rohan, who serves his community as president of COVID Busters. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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