My children, bless their hearts, drive me insane sometimes. And by “sometimes,” I mean daily. They either love each other or hate each other. And by “hate each other,” I mean attempted homicide. They play lovingly and giggle sweetly with each other. Until they don’t. It’s at this point that they begin the snippy attitudes, whiny voices and screaming. And it’s at this point that my brain begins to bleed out of my ears.
When they were much younger, I used to try to mitigate the issue at hand. Look at the content of the disagreement, and try to find the truth that could set them both free from their locked heads and horns. As they got older, I told them they needed to figure it out between themselves. I reminded them this is a No-Tattle Zone, and they needed to be kind and respectful to each other. I reminded them to pick their battles. I reminded them they each have the power to walk away; that they each had the power to choose to set down the barbs and jabs thrust at him or her, or to choose to personalize it.
Sure, these tactics would help sometimes to minimize the duration or intensity of the argument. But by then, my brain would be oozing out of my ears yet once again. I’m surprised I have any brain left between the kids and my head injury. The second they lock horns and start to argue, my blood pressure rises and my soul seizes up momentarily. I don’t know about you, but I really cannot stand the whining and yelling. I needed to figure something else out.
Honestly I ran out of ideas, so I just breathe deeply often. I happen to breathe better when I lock myself in a room away from them. I have no idea if it helps the kids at all, but I know it helps me from screaming. It’s in this moment of taking a step back and hearing the back and forth between the two that it hit me.
They’re locked in a battle of blaming each other. It doesn’t matter what the issue at hand is. She didn’t take out the trash last time. He didn’t move out of the way when she asked. She takes his books without asking. He misplaced her bag. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is someone feels slighted or not validated. Someone feels something isn’t fair. Someone feels like they didn’t get the help or answer they deserved to get. They get stuck on blaming the other. You wronged me…
I point this out to them now, and urge them to not get mired in blame. But instead understand there’s an answer or solution that’s lacking. And seek a constructive solution instead. To critically think instead of critically blame. There’s a need looking to be met. How can we make that happen?
Whose fault it is doesn’t matter half as much as how to resolve the current impasse. But it’s not just my children who fall into this pattern. Spouses do, world leaders do, mothers with irresponsible children do. We all do it.
It may make you feel better, vindicated, justified. But I remind them it’s better to be kind than right. And it’s better to have a solution than nothing to hold on to other than icy stares and accusations and a feeling of being gypped.
You can’t do much with icy stares. Your lot in life doesn’t improve a bit after trading mean words. Act like a victim, and you’ll be treated like a victim. Act like a problem solver, and the issue at hand will be resolved.