I’ve now voluntarily taken 22 weeks worth of parenting classes in the past year, and the more I learn about parenting techniques, and about myself in my own parenting journey, the more I realize how so many people are impacted by the “Blame Game”. There are many definitions and variations of the Blame Game, but let me explain how I view blame as it applies to me, my child with special needs, and our family.
When you take a minute to sit back and evaluate a situation, it is amazing what you can see from a birds-eye-view. Through this process I have seen a lot – parents blaming parents, parents blaming the child, relatives blaming the parents, parents blaming relatives… blame, blame, blame.
What I’ve realized through working with Apollo’s therapists and taking parenting classes is blame is toxic, blame does nothing positive to help your life, or the situation you are in; in fact, blame never fixes anything, but can destroy families, relationships, homes, etc. Blame is limit-less, until you set limits. Think about it…
Why do people blame?
I think this may be a question to ask a qualified healthcare professional (which I am not!); however, from what I’ve learned, blame has everything to do with what is going on with a person internally. I’ve been told that when people blame others it gives the person a sense of instant gratification – it makes them feel good… not once have I ever thought about people blaming others to make themselves feel better or to take the spotlight off of themselves, or their wrong-doings, but it makes perfect sense now.
So what drives people to blame? Maybe people are driven to blame by fear or past trauma. Perhaps it has everything to do with how that individual was raised, or maybe they saw their parents play the Blame Game, and that’s all they have ever known. Regardless, the reason for playing the Blame Game can vary from person to person. We may never understand why a person is playing the Blame Game, and to be honest, it is not our job to find the root cause of another person’s personal dilemma. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. All we can do is focus on our actions and how we choose to react to the situation.
For years, Justin and I asked ourselves that very “Why” question, and never got an answer. So, after years of getting burnt over and over again, we made the decision to separate ourselves and our family from blame, and the people that play the Game; one of the hardest, but best decisions we’ve ever made.
Blaming the Parents:
In our life, we have had people blatantly blame Justin and I for Apollo’s behaviors, disorders, developmental delay, etc. People in our life blame Apollo’s disorders on
vaccines, blame me and my genetics (I have a family member on the Spectrum), etc.; as if Justin and I wished all of this on Apollo. We love our kids unconditionally, and would do ANYTHING for them, so you can imagine how devastating this was to Justin and I.
For those that are anti-vaccines or anything to that affect, you are entitled to your own opinion and how you parent your children, but please be respectful of other parents and their decisions.
At the end of the day, Apollo emerged from the Blame Game still autistic, still with developmental delay, challenges, etc. All the Blame Game brought to his life was toxicity and trauma, when what he really needed/needs is love, support, and understanding… not blame. When the Game started, we were advised to separate ourselves from those that played the Game because were ultimately having a negative impact on our overall health and well-being. We listened, and did just that. Did it hurt our hearts to cut those people out of our lives? Absolutely. Who finds joy in separating themselves from people that they once turned to for support? We sure didn’t. We do not wish them any bad luck moving forward, but we do not wish to be around them, again.
I spent the first 3.5 years of Apollo’s life blaming myself for his autism, for his behaviors, challenges, for everything. After taking parenting classes and speaking to Apollo’s therapists, I now have the strength and wisdom to know better, and I refuse to live in a pool of blame anymore. I know I did my best during my pregnancy, and after Apollo was born. I know I will continue to do my best, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters. I will say that once I quit blaming myself, and accepted that I am a good parent, and am doing my best, I instantly felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders – like enough weighted bricks to build a house, and it felt amazing!
Blaming the Child:
In a recent parenting class, we talked about parents who at times have blamed the child for their behaviors, actions, etc. This is speaking from a behavioral standpoint, not blaming the child for any developmental challenges, disabilities or anything like that – so please do not misunderstand. This discussion was interesting and eye-opening to me, because I never looked at reacting to a child’s misbehavior from the perspective of blame before; and more than anything it made me realize how important it is for us parents to be cautious of the words and actions we use when disciplining children for misbehavior. Words or actions in anger can have a lasting impression on a child – remember that.
I am a self critic by nature, so instead of blaming anyone else, I usually direct that blame internally. Not that self-blame is right, because it isn’t, but that is just how I have been most of my life and it’s something I am working on in my own personal journey.
Blaming the Spouse:
I have been so blessed to have a husband that I call my best friend, my anchor. He holds my hand through every storm, and his love and faith in me and our family has never wavered. I’m so fortunate that my husband and I are a team in this parenting journey, and have not had to deal with blame between us. I know there are plenty of people that are not as fortunate, and I will not even pretend to know how that feels, because I cannot even imagine…
Escaping the Game:
I’ve seen other parents of children with special needs get so emotionally wrapped up in the Blame Game, and you can just sense the defeat and helplessness. I have read so many stories, from brave souls who have shared, where I can fully relate to everything their family is experiencing; seeing them struggle the way that I struggled previously, really hurts my heart. I’ve felt defeated, helpless, isolated and alone (friend-wise). I’ve felt so many negative emotions – but once the toxicity and blame was removed from our lives, we were able to scrape ourselves off the pavement, and slowly begin to heal.
I can only speak for myself, but escaping the Blame Game was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever gone through, but I feel like everything that I experienced has shaped me into the person, the mother that I am today, and for that I’m grateful. My hope in writing this is that each person that reads this is able to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Are you surrounded by positive, uplifting people (family, friends, etc.)? If yes, then great! If the answer is no, then ask yourself what changes you can make in your life that will make you happier? Don’t worry about what other people are doing, or saying, because you only have control over your life, and your decisions; so really focus on you and changes you can make for yourself or your family. Likewise, if you are caught up in the Blame Game, ask yourself how you are going to rid your life of blame, make a plan, and then do it!
I hope that if you have ever felt any negative emotion during your journey, that reading this has made you realize that you are not alone, that you are in control over you life, and have the power to make any changes needed thrive rather than survive. If I can do it, then I believe that you can do it too!
This post was raw and emotional for me to write, but I find it therapeutic to talk about, and process through the hard things in life, and I hope you do too!
Thank you for joining me!
*Disclaimer: content is based on the personal opinions and experiences of the author*