How To Parent: When Teens Blame Parents For Everything

Does Your Child Say This? “It’s Your Fault!”

It’s no mystery: children who say “It’s your fault” to their parents when confronted with a task they haven’t completed are trying to avoid taking responsibility for something.

Here’s the important thing to remember: don’t talk “fault”—talk “responsibility.” Often kids will try to lay blame when a responsibility has not been met. So respond with, “It’s not my fault, it’s your responsibility.” The reason why finding fault is not effective is because looking at the past will not solve your problems. But reminding your child whose responsibility it is keeps the issue right here in the present. And that’s where you want it to be, because the present is where problem-solving starts.

You: Why isn’t your homework done?

Your child: “It’s your fault I didn’t get my homework done because we went to the movies.”

Translation: “I’m not going to take responsibility for not getting my homework done—I’m going to make it your fault.”

Ineffective: “You’re right, I’ll write you a note, don’t worry about it.”

Effective: “Wait a minute. It’s your responsibility to tell me that you had homework to get done. Next time, tell me what you have to do before we go to the movies.”

Does Your Child Say This? “It’s Your Fault!” reprinted with permission from Empowering Parents. For more information, visit

James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James’ foremost goal was to help kids and to “empower parents.”

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