Inside: How modern moms are raising our kids into victim mentalities without even knowing it. We all want to raise children who turn into responsible and capable adults, but sometimes we inadvertently make the insecure.
We sat on the bed side by side after a harrowing morning.
And that after a harrowing week.
We were having this talk because I needed to know why she’d started acting like an Angry Alien Child. My normally compliant, helpful, and positive bright spark had started acting aggressive, angry, and bossy.
But not the “Cute… she’s gonna be a leader” bossy. The “Do what I say or I’ll hit you” type of bossy.
It was not good and I wanted it to stop.
I said, “Honey, why have you been acting so out of character and wild lately?” She looked at me seriously and in an earnest voice said…
“I know… I sometimes do things I shouldn’t do and don’t do the things I want to do. Then I don’t know how to stop.”
I was struck by her 5-year-old self-awareness.
She didn’t deny her behavior… She didn’t pretend she had been acting like an angel. She just gave me an honest answer. In fact, she’d basically quoted me Scripture.
I told her, “I understand, baby. I don’t always act how I want to either. Still, there are some things we just can’t do.”
“I know, mom,” she said, “I’m going to try to make better choices and remember to ask God to help me do what I’m supposed to do.”
My heart was so proud of her I could have burst. She was real. I was real.
We were honest. And through it all, neither of us condoned negative behavior nor heaped blamed on one another.
It was never more clear to me in that moment that my daughter takes responsibility for her actions.
She does not play the victim.
A Victim Mentality Says:
- They made me feel this way. (i.e. giving control of your feelings to others)
- He needs to apologize before I can move on. (i.e. giving control of your mental and emotional health to others)
- I couldn’t help it. (i.e. giving your self-control away)
- It’s not my fault. (i.e. giving your responsibility away)
Note: I’m not talking about children who are actual victims of abuse, neglect, or harm but about the mentality and mindset of a victim in the sense that life in general (not in one particular situation) is out of their control.
How we Unintentionally Raise Kids with “Victim Mentalities”
Again, this would not be the result of one or two occasions, but a consistent style of parenting.
The reason this is so important to me is that for a long time I felt a lot of stress because I blamed others instead of just focusing on what I could control.
Since I’ve realized that was victim thinking, I’ve worked hard to get out of that. It’s made me MUCH happier, more responsible, and less stressed.
1. We interrupt the law of sowing and reaping
➡️ A victim thinks they aren’t in control of the direction of their life.
This is a basic law of nature. You reap what you sow. Oh, yes, fine, there are other factors like whether it rained or whether the soil was fertile, but you get the gist.
- If you don’t eat, you’re hungry.
- If you don’t work, you don’t get a paycheck.
- If you hit or slap or kick other kids, you won’t have many friends.
- If you don’t go grocery shopping or plant your own food, there’s nothing to eat.
Simplistic yet important.
If we interrupt this process or attempt to minimize the effects of our kids’ behavior they do not learn that one reaps what one sows. And if they don’t learn this lesson, they’ll never learn to sow what is good, right, and responsible.
2. We interrupt cause and effect
➡️ A victim doesn’t connect action A with reaction B.
This is a learning curve for our kids.
They are not born knowing that touching an oven can burn their tiny fingers or that walking onto a road can cause them harm.
This is our job to teach them and we take it seriously.
But, as they age, we often minimize the effects of their actions to prevent frustration or disappointment. We want to avoid meltdowns or hurt feelings.
- They don’t do their homework or score low on a test… and we want to intervene so they still get a good grade.
- They don’t do their chores, but we don’t want them to miss out on their allowance… so we give it to them anyway even though this is against our family rules.
- They tell tall tales, are dishonest, or don’t tell the truth… and we continue to believe what they say even though this gives a mixed message about what trust is.
- They knowingly put off their school assignments… and we stay up all night with them to help them salvage the project.
With kindness and love, we must allow them to experience both the positive and negative effects of their actions.
It’s the only way they learn their actions really matter.
3. We abstain from proper training and call it grace
➡️ A victim feels life should be great or they’re being treated unfairly.
What a blessing that we receive grace both from God and others.
Without it, we’d be lost.
However, along with grace comes discipline. The Bible says God disciplines those He loves and as parents we are no different.
All love and no boundaries raises children who don’t follow any rules and expect you to be okay with it.
If we continually move the boundaries around, step in to prevent our children from being angry, and don’t let them learn from their mistakes, we’ll raise kids who expect others to clean up their messes.
4. We create a false world in our homes and try to enforce it elsewhere
➡️ A victim expects others to treat them as they are accustomed.
If we bend over backwards to give our children their every whim, switch the cups to the right color, cut every sandwich into perfectly equal squares, or do the things for them they can do for themselves, they’ll have a hard time in life.
- They will expect others to go out of their way to make life easy for them.
- They will not be able to cope when someone doesn’t walk on eggshells around them to help prevent them from feeling disappointed.
- They will feel unloved if others don’t give them their way because, often, victims think that being loved = getting what they want.
They just won’t know how to cope in a world that doesn’t bend to their will and, inevitably, they’ll feel they’re being treated unfairly.
They will give away control of their own happiness to others.
We can spoil our children with love, time, and attention without raising entitled kids who think everyone else must adjust to their wishes.
It isn’t easy to see our kids uncomfortable.
It isn’t always fun to “be the bad guy” and keep boundaries.
Yet, truly, it is rewarding to see our kids make good decisions because they know it matters.
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you have a little one aged 1 to 8, this series will help transform your home environment. No, that is not a joke or false claim. You can let your kids express their emotions without raising back talkers who meltdown at the drop of a hat or throw a tantrum every time they are unhappy with something. After this free email series:
- your child will stop throwing tantrums for attention
- you’ll know how to validate and affirm your child’s emotions
- you’ll feel more in control of the atmosphere of your home and will be able to operate out of a place of love, not frustration
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