Who Is a Family Scapegoat: Cause, Signs and How to Cope
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Have you noticed that there is someone in the family who gets singled out as the source of any problem when anything happens?
Such an individual might not be at fault, but everyone tends to direct their frustration, aggression, and anger to the person instead of tackling the problem from its root source. This situation is often called the family scapegoat syndrome.
In this article, you will learn the meaning and signs of being the family scapegoat.
Lori L Ellison’s study titled Scapegoating explains all you need to know about this concept. You will learn how scapegoating occurs in families, friendships, etc.
Who is a family scapegoat?
A family scapegoat is someone who gets blamed for the problems in the family. Such a person is easier to blame when anything unpleasant happens in the family. The family members might not get to the root of any problem because they believe the scapegoat is culpable.
5 signs of a family scapegoat
When it comes to being the family scapegoat, it suggests that you would most likely be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family. Sometimes, the scapegoat might be the most sincere and truthful person in the family, but other family members might come together to paint them in the dark light.
Here are some family scapegoat signs:
1. You get punished for telling the truth
One of the ways to tell the characteristics of the family scapegoat is that when they say the truth, they get punished for it. Most times, the family might need to look into the veracity of their claims. Instead, they get punished because they are labeled as the source of the problem.
2. You are left out
Another way to identify that you are the family scapegoat is when the family excludes you from conversations, events, etc. They might not see any reason to invite you because you’re not on the same page as them. Interestingly, if you deliberately decide not to be involved, you’ll get blamed.
3. You don’t receive praise
It is typical for the family scapegoat not to get praise or commendations. If they do something good, everyone tends to overlook it because it doesn’t excite them. However, if someone in the family achieves a similar feat, everyone celebrates them.
4. You are blamed for problems in the family
To know when you’re the family scapegoat, observe if you’re regularly blamed when there are shortcomings in the family. Usually, the scapegoat of the family will get blamed when anything goes wrong.
Related Reading: How to Deal With Someone Who Blames You for Everything
5. You are placed on a different pedestal
When it comes to being the family scapegoat, you get held to a different standard. For instance, if you give an opinion on something, it may be ignored. However, if someone else in the family shares a similar idea, they celebrate the person.
J David Arnold gave an in-depth inquiry into the concept of scapegoating in families. His study titled Family Scapegoating and adolescent development contains all you need to know about how it occurs in families.
5 causes why you being a family scapegoat
It is important to mention that the family scapegoat is not randomly chosen. Instead, it can be based on factors that might not entirely be their fault. Here are some of the causes of scapegoating in families.
1. Past mistakes
If someone in the family has made mistakes in the past, they are likely to be the family scapegoat, especially if these mistakes are similar. The person might try to atone for their mistakes, but the family might ignore their efforts and still label them scapegoats.
Related Reading: 15 Steps on How to Forgive Your Spouse for Past Mistakes
Being on both ends of the intelligence spectrum can make someone the family scapegoat. This means that the family might fault someone who is too intelligent or doesn’t have the desired mental capacity.
3. Role of the protector
When someone tries to protect others in the family, they can attract the scapegoat child characteristics. Other family members might pick them as scapegoats because they always try to defend others.
Related Reading: 20 Signs a Guy Is Protective of You
Sometimes, people become the scapegoat child or adults in their families because of their appearance. For instance, if someone in the family has a different hair color from others, they might be the scapegoat because they might look unrelated to others in the family.
Watch this video to learn what you should understand before you judge someone:
5. Parenting anxiety
When parents experience anxiety while bringing up children, they might inadvertently tag any children as the scapegoat family role, and the label might live with them forever.
Related Reading: A Practical Guide on Dealing With Separation Anxiety in Children
How to cope with being a family scapegoat
If you have been able to recognize that you’re the family scapegoat, one of the ways to cope is by changing your mindset by using positive affirmations. You can also set boundaries between you and those who call you the black sheep or scapegoat of the family.
In Patricia Jones’s book Are You the Family Scapegoat, you will learn how to stop being the family scapegoat and find peace in your life.
Some commonly asked questions
Here are the answers to some pressing questions that can help clear your doubts about the various aspects of being a family scapegoat:
Who is usually the family scapegoat?
There is usually no set standard for who can become the scapegoat in a family. The family scapegoat can be anyone in the family. Such a person is usually singled out when there are problems in the family. Additionally, they tend to bear the burden of a dysfunctional setting.
Is the scapegoat the strongest?
The scapegoat might not be the strongest in the family, and they may neither be the weakest. Anyone can be a family scapegoat, irrespective of their position or strength.
Being the family scapegoat can be challenging and depressing because almost everyone might frown at your efforts to make amends. It is important to seek support if it is beginning to affect your mental health.
If you’re a parent who happens to be the family scapegoat, consider going to marriage therapy for help.
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