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The Blame and Shame Game

We live in a day and age when counseling is a norm. Many churches have a Christian counselor on staff. Folks flock to bookstores where self-care and wellness books line the shelves. I woke this morning thinking that counseling is often a safe place to confess. The idea that we need to confess our sins against others as well as their sins against us verbally is a huge part of the healing process. Personally, I have not found that another human telling me that I am not at fault or am forgiven hasn’t been  truly freeing. It is more like a bandage than a cure. It stops my bleeding heart from coloring my world for a bit but eventually the bandage begins to leak all over my thoughts and relationships.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that counseling or confession are in any way a bad choice. The Bible says that there is wisdom in many counselors. (Proverbs 11:14) It also says that confession brings healing. (James 5:16)I am wondering if as teachers and parents, how much we hinder the spiritual growth of our children by using shame and blame in dealing with our own hearts and the hearts of our children. When a child disobeys many times the adult in charge feels not only challenged but also a sort of shame that somehow, they are at fault for not producing a better response in the child. Since the beginning of time our human defense against shame has been to blame others.

It all started in the garden. Genesis 3:11-13 “11 And the LordGod said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” 13 So the LordGod said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”  The blame and shame game is a dangerous activity whether it is outward toward others or inward, toward our own hearts.

As a teacher, when a student challenged me in class with a rebellious attitude, the blame and shame game ran rampant in my heart. I wanted to shame them into obedience. I wanted to blame their parents for their misconduct. Outwardly I wanted to blame others while inwardly I questioned my ability to really bring out the best in my students. I wondered if I was truly qualitied or gifted enough to teach. I wanted to me be loveable enough for them to want to obey me.  I told myself that I fell short of what I needed to be.

Children have many of the same feelings that we have when they are facing conflict or when they feel helpless to get the outcomes in life that they feel they need. Some learn quickly to manipulate others through passing the blame and shame, Others learn to blame themselves believing that if it is their fault they can change the outcome. Neither is helpful in the long run.

As parents and teachers, we need to say, “ENOUGH!”. We have the power to stop playing the game. Let’s work harder at shutting down the voices in our own hearts that blame and shame us and others around us for all the difficulties of life. We can teach our children by lesson and by example that God’s way is not to blame us for our sin.  Jesus took the blame and bore the shame and He did it for the joy that was set before Him. (Hebrews 12: 2)

The enemy of our soul is also called the Accuser. He was there at the beginning leading our first parents into sin. He has become our accuser. We need not let him use us to accuse as well. Adam and Eve started this family tradition of blaming and shaming but it didn’t work well for them and it is still not working well. Let’s leave all the blame and shame at the cross where it belongs. As those who have been resurrected with Christ, (Romans 6: 3-7) let’s walk in grace. Let’s teach our children how to be grace givers and grace recipients

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."