When life experiences beg me to “look in the mirror,”
I often balk. It was much more comfortable back in the day
when I could look at my child and his behavior as completely
his responsibility. I find it challenging to look at my own
baggage, issues, and what I bring to the table as a parent.
Religious dogmatism trained me to place high value on
being right. By default, anyone with a different opinion,
perspective, or belief was wrong. Our way is best, and we have
it all worked out and justified. It is so much easier to look at all
of life from my own perspective. Self-questioning and
reflection are tough. Sure, I will make the occasional apology
to my child when my behavior crosses into hurtful and out of
line territory. But to truly examine myself, as well as seek out
the particular role I play in any difficult interactions with those
I live with, takes guts. It is a painfully slow process. In fact,
once I chose to venture down this path, it became a lifelong
When one of our children displays extreme behaviors
or a challenging temperament, I’ve been tempted to make that
child a scapegoat. The origin of the word scapegoat comes
from the Hebrew word azazel. Around the Jewish Day of
Atonement, this goat was sent out into the wilderness bearing
the sins of God’s people. A dictionary definition for scapegoat
is “a person [or goat] made to bear the blame for others.”11
My mind wanders back to the time period when our
then third grade son experienced anxiety that interfered with
his and our family’s everyday life. I rejected the gentle prodding
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