Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Claiming Credit – Taking Blame

A few weeks back, writing Facebook friends and colleagues lamented that their adult kids’ failure to acknowledge Father’s Day felt like their failure to parent right.

I thought about some of the personal reactions I got to my post, so pleased with my own progeny for their achievements. Some were of the “you-did-well,-Mom!”

I remember feeling this was not right. My kids’ achievements are theirs. So are their failures.

We have a tendency to claim credit when credit is not due, and after a certain point (for the sake of unified definition let’s call it the age of majority) what they achieve is not our achievement. When they fail to do the right thing, (and I know my friends and myself, we did teach them right and modeled it also) it’s all theirs.
The same for our other babies, our books. My achievements are in writing them, and getting a publisher to take them on. If they are not stellar marketing successes this is more a failure of the marketing at the publishers, whose main role is to publish, i.e. make public. A book that is a mega success is also more a credit to the publisher. The author’s role is limited. Writing a good book is one thing, having it make a commercial splash is another.
It’s about taking responsibility. I am happy for a friend who had overcome adversity, but I have no business being “proud of her.” We use the word proud all too often. It’s best to prick that balloon before it makes us explode, or implode.

The most empowering thought I can offer today— own your own actions. Take neither blame nor credit from others.
 The preacher steps down now.


  1. I have to agree with Kelly. This was well written and hit home :). Gives me much to think about.

  2. Well, I admit to being guilty of saying, "I'm proud of you," especially to young people when they've accomplished something I think is impressive or when they've acted in a way that's particularly unselfish or caring. But when I say it, I'm not intending to be taking any credit for their actions. What I mean to be saying is that I'm impressed with what they've done and I hope they feel good about it themselves. Obviously, I need another word. Any suggestions?

    1. How about "pleased with?" Or "like that----," or "happy for---?"
      I'm working or re-training my words, also.

  3. Oh, dear, like Ev, I am filled with pleasure when I see someone doing the right thing, but you are right that pride has nothing to do with it. Alas, I do find that with the raising of children, there is too much false pride and false despair. They are their own people and they reap the consequences of their actions. It's the hardest thing I'm doing right now -- being a mother.

    Good sermon, Mirka :)

  4. I love what you've said here. It's so true!

    As a society, I see so many people moving away from personal responsibility.

  5. I think all of us, especially young ones, need to hear someone say I'm proud of you, or.I'm proud of what you've accomplished, or I'm proud of how you handled that situation. To me, it's not that the person saying it is taking credit. It's about commending the other person's hard work. And commendation can go a long way!

  6. Good points to think about. Maybe---I'm impressed with what you've accomplished---?

  7. I think I'm with Dionna on this one. I'm always touched when a good friend says she's proud of me for one reason or the other. Just last week I told a younger friend how proud of her for something thoughtful she'd done, and she was beaming. Thanks for giving us something new to think about.

  8. Dear Mirka, I think you should be proud of yourself for getting your thoughts on this topic out and getting this conversation started. It's good for writers to examine the words we use as we need to be as exact as possible. I think when someone we care about does something good, there is more than one emotion going on. It seems natural for a parent or grandparent to be "proud" of her child's accomplishments. (This even applies to good friends or editors with their authors). But beyond that is the feeling of being impressed (as others have said) by the accomplishment of the individual. That is another thing the person will be happy to hear.