It's Not The Child's Fault

Don‘t try to “make” your child perfect. Every child is already born perfect. Just create as loving, supportive, resourceful environment as you can and be a good role model for them, and they‘ll be fine. If you fulfill those requirements, your child will be better off than most people. Don‘t forget that every adult was a child once, i. e. environment and relationship with one’s caregivers matters A LOT. Actually, that’s the most important thing. So, if you feel that there‘s something wrong with your child – look in the mirror first.

Children repeat the behavior they see around them – often down to the smallest detail.

If you yell at your child, your child will learn to yell when they are dissatisfied with other people’s behavior. Also, yelling (or beating, or rejection, or neglect, or manipulation, or other forms of abuse – it doesn‘t matter how “nicely” one applies them) harms the attachment figure-child bond, cripples child‘s developing brain, and teaches them that might makes right. Therefore such behavior is harmful to the child on many levels.

And if you yell at your child for yelling at others, or beat them for hitting others – well, that damages the child‘s psyche even more, because you‘re completely confusing your child by imposing a contradiction on them. “If I don‘t like how you act, then I hit you – but when you don‘t like how others act, then hitting is wrong... Oh, and I‘m 3 times your size, and your existence completely depends on me, so if you want to survive in this world you better be nice and obey my completely contradictory rules.”

(Never forget that the child is completely dependent on the parent – this means that if they feel any kind of disapprovement, even the mildest one, they feel that their biological survival is at stake and that they might physically die. That‘s why children have no other choice but to comply to everything their parents inflict on them. And, sadly, I have even seen some parents explicitly using this information not to the child‘s advantage, but to fulfill their own unhealthy needs: “My child is completely dependent on me, THEREFORE I can treat them however I want.”)

So, if you feel that your child is doing something you don‘t like, it‘s probably because:

1) It triggers some unprocessed trauma in you. If that’s the case, it’s your responsibility to process it and heal from it – not the child’s responsibility to modify his/her behavior.

2) You're not a good role model (i. e. your actions contradict your words; you expect from others a different behavior than you yourself demonstrate; your behavior is irrational, immoral, or ineffective for whatever reason; etc.). If you can’t explain something properly, seek knowledge and/or seek help from others – it’s not your child’s fault. If your child mirrors your hypocritical, irrational, immoral, or ineffective behavior, it’s your fault that you’re a bad role model – not your child’s because (s)he’s mirroring you.

3) You don't or didn't take time to really teach your child or explain to the child why it would benefit him to change his/her behavior. If that’s the case, it’s not your child’s fault that (s)he doesn’t know something or feels it’s better to act irrationally or immorally – it’s your fault for failing to teach or explain something effectively to your child.

4) You fail to create safe and appropriate environment for your child where the needs of your child are fulfilled. It’s not the child’s fault that (s)he lives in an environment where his/her needs are not met – every parent’s responsibility is to create an environment where the needs of their child are fulfilled. So, if the child acts out, it’s not his/her fault; it shows that some of his/her needs are not met – and that is not the fault of the child.

5) Any combination of the things mentioned above.

As you can see, in any case it’s not the child’s fault. The child can’t do anything wrong. Meaning, child’s action objectively might be wrong – and the more developed the child is, the more responsibility (s)he has – but fundamentally it shows the failure of the caregiver, not so much the failure of the child.

So, if you feel that your child (or any other child) is “bad”, “wrong”, look in the mirror first; you’re probably projecting, avoiding responsibility, and lacking empathy – for yourself and for others.

If that’s the case, it’s not the end of the world – it can change; and my intention is not to trigger blame or guilt, but to raise awareness and to put the responsibility where it belongs. I think it’s always important to be aware of what’s going on (however unpleasant it looks and feels). Awareness leads to clarity and change. In this case, understanding of children’s and one’s own needs leads to a better relationship with your child, with oneself, and with people in general.

 I leave you with this poster:

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  1. What you're writing about is extremely interesting but it also seems to suggest (note that I use "seems to suggest" rather then "suggests" because I know I may be wrong - especially that I'm not a native speaker of English) that some people shouldn't be parents at all because they're not "good enough". Especially point 4 can be a bit controversial because it seems to suggest that low-income families cannot provide a good environment for a child. Would it be possible for you to elaborate on that? Thanks in advance!

  2. Hi, J. Thank you for your interesting comment. Don't worry, English is also not my native language, and I never learned it "officially" (for example, in school).

    Well, yes. Some people definitely should not have children. I know people whose parents raped them, beat and severely emotionally abused them or put them in an environment where other people abused them.

    And yes, there's a chance that low-income families won't provide children with a good environment. Although enough money is just one of the prerequisites.

    I know it might sound controversial to some, but let's imagine I have a dog. I don't feed him properly. Sometimes I don't take him out for a walk so that he could pee (maybe I'm to lazy, maybe I don't understand his needs, doesn't matter). And when he pees on the floor, I beat him and yell at him for being a bad dog.

    Is it really controversial to say that maybe I'm not ready to have a dog? A lot of people would get angry at me and accuse me of animal abuse (and rightfully so). If I decided to have a dog, I'm responsible for his/her well-being. It's not up for the dog to fulfill my needs. And I'm talking about a dog. Human beings are WAY more complicated.

    Sadly, I see a lot of people who treat children no better - or even worse - than animals. And often blame it on the child.

    I hope that helps,

  3. I does help, yes, thanks. The dog example is very clear.

    But, going back to the financial matters, remember that - as I've stated in a different comment - it's simply impossible for everyone to have good income. Implying that people who don't earn decent money should not reproduce no matter how mature and responsible they are otherwise is going a bit far in my book... I'm not saying you're implying that - but one could easili draw such a conclusion, no matter if it's a correct one or not.

  4. * of course I meant "It does help" ;-) I tend to do quite a lot of typos when I write fast ;-)

    Anyway - one more thing: I do agree that there are some people that should never have children. People who tend to be aggressive, abusive, lack basic empathy... They're definitely unfit to be parents. But it does NOT depend on the financial state. Economics tend to play tricks on us (with a great help from banksters), one day you have a job, next day - you don't because the company went bankrupt. That's life.

  5. I've talked about this a little bit in my other comment . But in short, yes, one's financial state is not the ONLY factor of having a healthy life and creating a healthy life for others. Actually, in my first paragraph I say: "Just create as loving, supportive, resourceful environment as you can and be a good role model for them, and they‘ll be fine. If you fulfill those requirements, your child will be better off than most people. Don‘t forget that every adult was a child once, i. e. environment and relationship with one’s caregivers matters A LOT."

    However, having healthy children means providing them with A LOT of resources. Money is just a mediate resource (i. e. we use money so that we won't have to bring 5 apples in the shop to exchange them into a loaf of bread). So, every child's birthright is to have parents that will fulfill all of his/her TRUE needs (that DOESN'T mean that one has to have no boundaries and no principles with one's child) - and that requires A LOT of resources (healthy food, good education, healthy environment, etc.). Most people, if not all, don't fulfill most of their children's needs. And that's abusive (it's not important if parents do that intentionally or out of ignorance, or they just lack resources.

    The point of this post was - as I've said in it explicitly - to bring awareness to the fact that it's parents' responsibility to take care of their child's needs, not vice versa.

    Again, I hope that helps :)

  6. It does! Anyway, here's my opinion: deciding to have a child when we barely support ourselves is very irresonsible, and I think we both agree here. But if you already have a child/children and suddenly - contrary to you best efforts - financial situation goes south, the company you work for goes bankrupt, the business you run loses money because of a wrong decision of a tax officer (the latter happens A LOT here in Poland), you get ill and your sickness means a financial ruin (that happens a lot in the USA), whatever... it doesn't make you a bad, irresponsible parent. Yes, bringing up kids requires a lot of resources, not only of financial nature. But it's love, caring, making the child feel safe and being a good role-model is what's most important. You don't have to buy your kids the most expensive toys and most fashionable clothes. It's not what matters here. Just my 2 cents.

    Mind you, I'm not a father... yet. But I want to be one day, and my dream is to be a great dad.

  7. Great post. To look at ones own childhood and aside responsibility properly, and to see society clearly.

    I think that if you are intelligent, educated, good person. You have enough skills, savings, and friends - you would be fine in worse times. The scenarios put forward in other comment by j. are not possible with preparation. Darius never wrote that you need to buy your child most expensive clothes and toys. But you certainly need alot of money to provide good house in secure and healthy neigborhood(alot of nature), you need money to pay for healthy food, car, educational materials, for travel, and be financially secure enough that you are not frustrated and act our on your child. Most people do not prepare enough, they dont have good income and healthy relationship with their another partner, and then they decide or have a child and decide to keep him, and are trying to figure out stuff on the go. And that is not the way to be a good parent. This is why you need to set good standards for future parents, without compromise.


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