Scapegoating – The Blame Game

I went to a very small private school whose sports teams where horrible. I played football and basketball from 7th grade until I was a senior. I only remember winning maybe a couple of games at both of these sports all 6 years except one season in basketball. I’ll get to that season later. When I was in the 9th grade during basketball season, I was a professional bench warmer that year. I was tiny and just a freshman on the varsity team. Our school was so small, that our coach was the coach of everything. Football, basketball, baseball, etc. He was also one of the most negative people I had ever met, and cursed more than anyone I had ever heard. It was toward the end of the season, and we were up against our rival team. As usual, we had lost every game that year so far. We had also already played this team once earlier in the season, and they beat us by only one point. By some miracle, we were winning this game…key word…were.  In the last 2 minutes of the game, the opposing rival team starting catching back up. In last 30 seconds, I yelled out in frustration, “Oh no, they are going to do it to us again!!” My coach looked at me in disgust. We lost…by one point…again. When we got to the locker room, the coach through me under the bus. He told them what I had said at the end of the game. He said, “You lost, because of his negativity.” The whole team looked at me full of anger. I’m thinking, umm, I never even played in the game. I never even touched the ball. I sat on the bench the entire game. How is this my fault? But, I didn’t say anything. I took the blame. There was even a part of me that felt guilty for what I had said, and even thought it was possible that it cost us the game. This is a really good example of scapegoating.

What is Scapegoating? The Psychology Research and Reference website states: “Scapegoat theory refers to the tendency to blame someone else for one’s own problems, a process that often results in feelings of prejudice toward the person or group that one is blaming. Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to explain failure or misdeeds, while maintaining one’s positive self-image.”

We see this often in families. The family as a whole is dysfunctional, but one person, usually a child/sibling gets the blame for all that is wrong with the family. This typically happens when that said child/sibling acts out due to the turmoil happening within the family unit. It is easier to blame this one “black sheep” in the family rather than to admit there is something wrong in the marriage, or whatever the main problem is. The child’s misbehavior is a symptom of a much larger problem. The family; however, will force this individual to bare a burden that isn’t his/hers. Therefore, the misbehavior becomes worse, and the root causes of the family issues remains covered up. As the child grows older, he becomes more and more rebellious. Have you heard this statement before? “Negative attention is better than no attention at all.”

Let’s talk about that one season I mentioned in the first paragraph where we didn’t lose every game. Not only did our basketball team win more often, we won every game that year except the state championship game. Yes, we made it all the way to the state championship game. What was different? We got a new coach that played for Auburn University. He spent time with each player to find out what their strengths and weakness were. Instead of cursing at us when we messed up, he showed great patience, and worked with us to correct what we were doing wrong. Once he fine tuned us individually, he then put us together as a team. He taught us how to be better. He taught us how to see ourselves more positively. He taught us that it was ok to accept that we weren’t good at a specific skill. I don’t care that we lost the championship game. It was an amazing season, and our whole team changed even personally as a result.

As parents, we HAVE to learn to have patience. Not just with your children, but with your spouse also. Take time to find out if there is something else going on. Have confidence in yourself to be able to recognize if you have a weakness or flaw. It doesn’t matter how everyone else responds. You and you alone are responsible for how you respond. Your response can either add to the problem or start to change the climate of your home. If you lash out in anger, nothing gets better. It likely just get worse. Control you!!! Look at the mirror at you!!!. Change you!!!


Author: championfamiliesblog

Champion Families Ministries provides counseling services for Celebration Florida and the surrounding area specializing in marriage counseling as well as a wide variety of other needs.

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