Like everything else in our culture, communication must move quickly. Language has to be efficient. In writing, long descriptive passages of prose like those found in classic pieces of literature have been replaced by rapid-fire dialogue and concise, but action-packed paragraphs. Less is more.
In our workplaces, there are acronyms designed to speed discussions between industry professionals. In education, there are IEP’s (Individualized Education Programs/Plans) and MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) tests, STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and ACT (American College Test) preparation classes. In every field, there are communication short-cuts.
Our youth have created countless acronyms and codes for use in texting (TTYL, LOL, CUL, and so on and so on), and well…
It’s time for us moms to have our own short-and-sweet, direct and clear, three-letter message for use in parenting.
NMF is one I propose. NMF means “NOT MY FAULT” and is to be used in those situation when children, and this most often applies to those falling in the 13-18 age range, attempt to blame their unfortunate situations or circumstances on Mom. Dads may use NMF as well, but we mothers tend to have much greater need for it. That’s just how it seems to work.
Let me provide a few examples:
Problem: Child does not have clarinet when dropped off at school in the morning.
Child’s Response: “I don’t have it because you (Mom) unloaded it from the car last night.”
Mom: “I thought you might consider practicing it.”
Problem: Seventeen-year-old driver says he is late to school.
Child’s Response: “You (Mom) did not wake me up on time.”
Mom: “When I noticed your alarm failed to rouse you, I called you and was acknowledged.”
Problem: Teen did not get his homework done for Thursday.
Child’s Response: “You (Mom) made me go to Wednesday night church.”
Mom: “That is the general practice in our home; perhaps you need to plan better.”
Problem: Daughter feels sick during cheer because she fails to eat before going.
Child’s Response: “You (Mom) did not feed me.”
Mom: “I stopped feeding you when you learned to use a spoon.”
My children are not exceptional; they are normal kids, and this behavior is typical of normal kids. Good, smart, talented, kind, sensitive kids will try to place blame on mom if they can get away with it; they will try to push it our way if we allow it. So, we have to push responsibility right back on to their accountability-resisting bottoms.
There is a thing called “locus of control.” It has to do with the degree to which individuals believe they have control over their own lives and the events that impact them.
If a person has an internal locus of control, he feels empowered to make his own success. He will believe he is fully capable of making a successful (or dismal) future by the choices he makes and the actions he takes in life.
Conversely, if a person possesses an external locus of control, she is likely to feel her successes and failures are due to other people and outside events, rather than of her own making. She may feel she is a victim of things that happen to her as opposed to an agent of change in her own life.
Though we want our children to think about others and not merely themselves, we also want them to have an internal locus of control. We want them to consider the feelings of those around them, and we want them to recognize that they have the power to make things better for themselves and others in the world. That is the combination of caring and accountability, consideration and responsibility.
Moms find enough things to feel guilty about, so we simply can’t take on any extra silly stuff. Next time your youngin’s try to put the blame on you for something that is all theirs, keep in mind some Lonestar-like lyrics:
Tweet a message, text a note, sew a label in his coat,
Write a letter, spell it out, say it clear so there’s no doubt.
Draw a picture, make a sign, use the language for the blind,
Send a Snapchat, make a call, get your point out most of all.
I’ll accept no bad excuse, N-M-F.
In light-hearted country music songs, excuses may be preferred, but not in parenting. We can’t allow our kids to make excuses on the little things, because they will learn to do that on the big things in life as well.
Next Monday, I’ll talk about the line between accountability and advocacy – the fine art of knowing that though kids need to be held accountable, there may be times when they also need an advocate.
Here is the link to Lonestar’s hit song, which is way better than my “Weird Hally” version: