Clinical psychologist Patricia Dalton has written an insightful article for the Washington Post entitled “The Don’t Blame Me Generation.”
Dalton describes the culture of this generation as one in which the world “revolves around me”:
It is a culture that reflects a studiously nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s own behavior, while ignoring its effects on others. And it is based on a belief system like this: I am more important than most people; I am good; therefore, I am incapable of doing bad things.
Compare those words with the apostle Paul’s in Philippians 2:3-4, “3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Dalton rightly identifies the source of much of the problem—the home:
Evasive attitudes are learned, refined and reinforced in the home. And they ultimately lead people to become so divorced from the impact of their actions that they freely take advantage of others.
What is striking today is the number of parents who seem to be uncomfortable with the role of teaching their children. They let the culture do it and hope for the best. Some even side with their children against authorities.
Today’s adults who coddle young people fail to see that they are handicapping them.
Dalton offers the following prescription for how to cure this disease:
Parents who want to raise mature young people who will contribute to society must not only have values that infuse their own lives but must also be willing to enforce them in their children’s lives. Young people need to be taught, before reaching adulthood, that taking a powerful position involves a weight of responsibility to others.
Parents have two serious responsibilities. The first is to love their children without worshipping them. Such adoration is a big danger in today’s smaller families where parents’ pride and dreams are divided among fewer children. The second responsibility is to discipline children — to hold their feet to the fire. Parents must be able to tolerate the distress that real discipline causes their offspring.
To do so, they have to quit worrying so much about damaging their children’s self-esteem.
It is interesting that, immediately after the Fall, Adam responds to God with the same “don’t blame me” mentality that permeates this generation. Genesis 3:12 describes Adam’s response, “The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
He begins by accusing Eve of giving him the fruit, and then blames God for the sin because God gave her to him as a partner. This same pattern of self justification and passing the blame is rampant in America, especially in college Christianity.
What America desperately needs in this regard is something that can only be found in Christ—a courageous commitment to responsibility in the midst of adversity. Instead of Jesus saying, “it’s not my fault, don’t blame me”, the cross said, “even though it’s not my fault, blame me.”