Personal responsibility is a phrase you will hear quite often at our house. Yes – you will hear us as parents say it to the kids – and maybe even more so – the kids say it to each other! And of course – sometimes the kids will even say it to us – deservedly so!
Occasionally in our quest as parents on this awesome journey of raising little ones – Melani and I find ourselves doing things for our children that we really shouldn’t be doing. Yes we do some of those things for them because we love them – but let’s be honest here – we also do some of them because it is just more expedient @ times! Even though we recognize this on some intellectual level – in just the shadows of our minds – who really wants to stand over a kid for 20 minutes to make them pick up the Legos on the floor – when you can do it in 33 seconds flat and move on with your day! Yes – I would say that Melani is a little more prone to doing this than I am – if only for the fact that she is more of a nurturer than I am. But we do recognize that we are actually doing a disservice to our children – by enabling them and condoning behaviors we really don’t want them to develop.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
– Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu –
The Real Challenge
From the parenting perspective, I would hope that most parents would agree with the need to teach their children about personal responsibility. The real challenge, we find, is in having the discipline, energy and mental fortitude to do, in practice, what we know needs to be done. The demands of daily life and raising children has a way of wearing you down. Being up to the task and consistent in our approach requires a lot of discipline and energy. So it is truly imperative that we take care of ourselves physically so we can be at our best and fulfill our parenting responsibilities.
The Blame Game
When one of the kids misplaces their favorite stuffed animal, we do help them look for it – sometimes. Circumstances and frequency of occurrence of that same issue will dictate our response. We want to be compassionate and loving parents – but at the same time – we recognize that we must encourage the children to accept responsibility for their actions and the consequences that follow. So whether we help them search for their lost stuffed animal or not – we are still having a discussion about personal responsibility.
We want the children to understand that they have a role in how their morning, day, school year and indeed life turns out. Their actions and behaviors impact their circumstances and the things that happen around them. We don’t want them to grow up chronically looking to others for help with every little thing, or worse, to blame others for their situation or lack of happiness.
We believe that learning the lessons of personal responsibility at a young age will encourage our children to be more proactive in life and will ultimately empower them to boldly take the reigns of their future. Yes – some things are, without a doubt, outside our control. But fortune rewards the prepared – and those that accept personal responsibility for their lives & actions are more prepared than those that don’t!
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