Transforming Our Family: When My Son Plays the Victim

Posted April 1, 2010 by

Our family is going through the Total Transformation Program together, and this week, we learned that it is really important for parents to understand they need to “parent the child they have.” James Lehman says, “Although they don’t realize it, parents have two choices when confronted with difficult children: to continue to parent as if their child is the child they dreamed of parenting, or to develop the skills necessary to parent the child they actually have.” My husband and I learned that some children become aggressive if you behave passively. If you do not respond to them, they will ramp up the behavior, not stop it! (No wonder for all that time I tried to ignore the negative and praise the positive, I failed at improving my son Thomas’s behavior!)

Parents do have a responsibility of changing first rather than expecting the child to change. Part of that change involves parents understanding where your parenting roles are and why it doesn’t work.
Jerry is identified as “The Screamer.” This is because he knows of no other way to try to get Thomas to behave because what he *really* wanted to do was to spank him which we both have agreed is not going to work and has no positive benefits. What Thomas has learned from this approach of yelling has been that Jerry is an emotional peer. This means that Thomas sees Jerry has come done to his level. This will jeopardize the authority Jerry is trying to assert!

And in Total Transformation lingo, I am the “Ticket Puncher.” Oh, yes! I defend Thomas’ victim stance. I make excuses. I over-indulge emotionally (not monetarily). I try to share the blame across the household in an effort to be fair. I over-empathize with him. Good golly, I swear this description was written by someone who had observed me over the past three years since Jerry and I married! What Thomas has learned from this is that it’s not his fault and there is no objective right and wrong. (We call it excusitis at our house!)

This lesson provided some hard learning for me! I had already identified some ways my son, Thomas, was creating parent traps for me to fall in, but who knew just how many ineffective parenting roles Jerry and I had fallen into! Now that I know these things, along with Jerry, we’re eager beavers with following the action steps that are outlined in the program. Knowing what to expect as we perform them will help keep us motivated and knowing it is working.

P.S. On a side note, the doctor prescribed a new medicine for Thomas. I agreed to try it for two weeks. Week one has been awesome! I won’t be able to tell how much the medicine is and how much is the program working, of course, but his doctor assured me that this medicine will help make him be more receptive to the changes taking place.


Heather is a mom of two special needs children and has spent over a decade working with them and other children who present challenging behaviors. She has been writing for over 20 years.

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