“I can’t get my child to feed himself because my in-laws feed him so now he’s spoilt”
“My children won’t listen to me because even my husband doesn’t listen to his parents”
“My children can’t cope well in preschool because they have a lousy teacher”
“I can’t get them to eat dinner without putting a device in front of them or they will be running around”
“I’m struggling to manage my son’s behaviors because he has special needs, he is learning disabled and he is difficult to manage”
Sounds familiar? Yup! That’s what it means by ‘parenting with a victim mentality’ where everything is everybody’s fault and everything is to blame except us……after all, we are the ‘victims’, right?
Yes! It is if u think that way…….. and this was me for the longest time. My dialogue sounds a bit like …..
“He’s a bit late to toilet train because I was too busy with work to do it” (the classic blame on work…..best way to justify everything)
“He’s stubborn because he’s behaving just like you!” (The classic blame on spouse…….after all, they should take half the blame)
“He’s got a rash because the nanny didn’t clean him up enough” (the classic blame on daycare provider/preschool teacher/nanny)
And this is the worse by far……..
“My son is not learning to read according to grade level because of his dyslexia” (blaming my son)
Yup! Been there! Done that! Then one day, something hit me really hard……..it was a call I got from my boys’ teacher for a ‘private’ meeting. I dread ad hoc meetings with their teachers because it’s never a good sign. At the meeting, I was told that my boys are suffering from high anxiety and that if I didn’t do something about it, they will call child services to investigate us.
I gasped and slipped into that whole victim mentality that I knew so well. I took a huge breath and then I started pointing fingers at EVERYTHING!
They are anxious because their dad was emotionally abusive, my work took me away from home for long days, their nanny doesn’t speak enough English to communicate with them so they might be feeling isolated, our house was too far from school and all that commute was putting way too much stress on my boys, my boys are anxiety prone because it’s genetic……..
Looooonnnnngggg list! Of everything that made ME the victim of this situation. It doesn’t make any sense right? My boys are suffering from severe anxiety and I’m the ‘victim’?!?
So this month is suicide awareness month and in as much as I’ve been really aware of suicides (I’ve lived in all the high-stress countries in Asia including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan) but NEVER in my life would I have thought that my boys would be highly likely candidates for it if I allowed things to continue as they are while I went on my jolly life complaining about everyone who didn’t do their part.
That was a huge part of my adult life…….when I realize that my life is not ever going to be the same again. I decided to take ownership for my boys and for myself and as soon as I realized that, I was able to catch myself whenever I slipped into that victim mentality and it was scary how easily we go back to bad habits. I also realized that instead of channeling all my energy on finding someone or something to blame, I was focusing on problem-solving.
Problem #1: My boys have high anxiety. They are not able to focus and are fidgety, wetting the bed, and other misbehaviors noted.
Old victim mentality options: tell their father to stop screaming and shouting at them. make a formal complaint to their school bus company for using two smaller busses rather than one big 65-seater one so that it’s not too stimulating and stressful for the children. Ask teachers not to give them any pressure, pull rank if I have to. Stop equally high anxiety neighbor from coming over for play dates.
New non-victim mentality options: speak to boys, identify the source of anxiety, find ways to eliminate anxiety, put together a plan to make it happen.
Problem #2: So my boys are not thriving in school? They don’t like going to school? Are they getting bullied in school?
Old victim mentality options: Complain about school? See the principal, complain about the teacher? Make a huge deal about it on social media? Get an article out to the newspapers?
New nonvictim mentality options: Start researching alternative options for learning. Speak to the boys about trying new things out. Speak to other parents who have gone down a different path.
Problem #3: I want to worldschool and I don’t know where to start!
Old victim mentality options: I can’t do it because I have two jobs that require me to be in my preschool classroom in the day and in my lecture hall at night….why can’t my stupid job be more flexible? I can’t quit my jobs because I don’t know where I’m going to get money from, why can’t I win the damn lottery already! it doesn’t help that I’m a single parent drawing on a single income…..maybe I should wait for a rich guy to come and ‘rescue’ me from this predicament before I consider worldschooling. How do I get started, nobody I know has done this and no one is there to teach me how to do it.
New nonvictim mentality options: Seriously, it can’t be that hard! I’ve done harder things, I just need to math the heck out of my finances and science the heck out of researching how to do this. If there’s no job for me out there that would allow me to world school, maybe it’s time I created one! I don’t know anyone who world schools but I don’t mind being the first of my friends to do this. I will make mistakes and I will learn like crazy and that’s the fun about learning stuff.
Can you see how my problem-solving skills changed and so did my focus? Instead of trying to change the people or things around us, I was changing us!
I have been doing this for 3 years now and I can’t imagine how far we have come. Because we got rid of our victim mentality, we were able to push past all of our challenges and self-imposed limitations.
It’s important to know when we are making a conscious, informed choice vs when we are making choices based on our victim mentality. let me give you a classic example….
I’ve had parents who complain about their children’s schools and when I suggested that they homeschool or world school, they’d say that ‘not every parent can homeschooling or worldschooling’…..and……(wait for it)…….’we have to work (we are a victim of work) and we are not teachers so we can’t teach our own children (we are victims of being in the wrong professions) and we don’t have the patience because our children are just such a hand full (we are victims of our children).
Now, this would be entirely different if parents decided not to homeschool or world school not because of their victim mentality but rather because it’s a conscious choice. They would say something like ‘we would like to homeschool and world school because we believe that our children would benefit from it. We don’t know how to do it yet but we are looking into it’ or ‘we won’t be homeschooling or worldschooling our children because we are afraid that the sacrifices we will make will be too big for us right now; we will reassess our situation 2 years down the road and if we need it then, we will start planning’.
Can you see the difference? One has loads of excuses for why they can’t do it while the other is full of possibilities of how they might be able to do it.
……and this applies to so many decisions that we make.
I hope that this article will get you thinking about your own victim mentality. If you could think about a recent parenting challenge you’ve had to address using the victim mentality, feel free to share it in the comments section below so that we can all start to increase our own parenting awareness.