Most of my writing addresses the truth that children have no control over the negative events that happen to them and the resulting negative self-beliefs that are formed from those events. When a child is overly criticized, rejected, ignored or abused, he holds no responsibility for that event. Most of the time, however, he concludes that he is somehow to blame. He may conclude that he is inadequate, unimportant or defective. That conclusion is inaccurate and can be tremendously self-destructive. The child assumes responsibility, but in reality, is totally innocent.
However, negative childhood events do not remove our responsibility for our later choices or actions. A bad childhood doesn’t give us permission to be hurtful or inappropriate. Even the child who has been abused has to have boundaries, limits and consequences. She has to learn to behave appropriately, despite the fact that she has been hurt. To do less would be unloving.
Sometimes, compassion is confused with compromise. We may feel compassion for the person who had a bad childhood, and mistakenly compromise our expectations and withhold the natural and appropriate consequences for bad behaviors. The danger here is that we may unwittingly teach them to be irresponsible. This actually sets them up for future painful events.
Sometimes people will try to excuse their inappropriate or hurtful behaviors on the fact that they had a “bad childhood.” Most of the time, however, the person who experienced childhood rejection, harsh criticism or abuse puts too much responsibility on herself. She feels responsible for every negative outcome. In a sense, these people become blame magnets.
The key here is to objectively determine whether you have responsibility or not. Would you assign responsibility to someone else, who was in your shoes? If a friend experienced the exact same situation and exhibited the same behavior and created the same outcome, would you place blame on them? Think about your assumptions about responsibility and learn to treat yourself as you would treat anyone else in your situation.
Question: Do you feel that most people tend to take on undeserved responsibility for negative events, or that most avoid responsibility when they rightfully should take it?