Don't blame your children. It's probably you.

Story one.

We are watching Masterchef in our house again and last night it was the team challenge episode. Not only do you get to watch them cook food that makes you salivate for the rest of the evening, but you get to watch the group dynamics and criticise the leaders.

And there was a lot of criticism required last night. Deb, an elegant, 50 something woman with the haircut that I'm going to have when I finally go grey, is a great individual cook, but she is not a leader.

She stumbled around, alternately giving over responsibility to others and then taking it back, bossing and yelling and generally not reading the room. 

It would have been just acceptable and people may have forgiven her, but at the end she blamed the team. "I didn't feel supported," she said. Unfortunately she didn't realise that the team was doing the best they could with the poor leadership they had been subjected to.

I'm guessing that Deb will not last in the competition. While she may have the skills in the kitchen, she doesn't have the ability to take responsibility for her own actions. 

Story two.

A conversation took place between someone I know and a mother of younger children. Her husband works in a worthy job, doing good for many people. Unfortunately, she was having trouble with her son and told my friend that he was very strong-willed.

"Oh, what does he do?" asked my friend.

"he just wants his daddy all the time," she said. "He just insists on playing with him. And he says that he hates his father's job."

It turned out that that dad of the child was working long hours and was out several nights in the week. My friend said that he thought the child probably had a point, even though his father's job was indeed worthy and helped a lot of people.

Putting the two together.

It was so obvious to me, watching Masterchef, that a leader cannot blame the team for failure. If the people you are supposed to be leading have failed, it is more than likely that there is a problem with leadership. It is more than likely that you have stuffed up in some way. All the sports teams know this. That's why they sack coaches and managers after a losing season. Leadership is absolutely crucial to the performance of the team under the leader.

It is less obvious to parents (and I include myself here) that if something is going wrong with a child, it may be our leadership in the family that needs adjusting. How often do we blame children for things that could be avoided if only we parents or teachers got our act together?

Of course, I'm not saying that nothing is ever a child's fault, and I would not hold parents responsible for everything that goes on, but I wonder if we need to look at our leadership actions a little bit more carefully before we simply jump in and blame children.