When I read news articles of the latest young person in trouble, I can’t help but be reminded of the one thing we are failing to teach our children. It’s a tough lesson to learn but one that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
Crash! The sound of crumpling metal and broken glass drowned out the radio in an instant.
My heart was beating so fast. I looked around the car to make sure everyone was okay. They were….
I promise, I saw the truck ahead of me, with a trailer hitched to it…I saw him turning. And I slowed down. But what I didn’t do (being the inexperienced driver of 2 months) was give him enough turning time considering he had to get that big ol’ trailer out of the way too.
I called my mom and dad and explained exactly what had happened. I promised I would pay for every last penny in repairs and begged for forgiveness. On top of the fact that I had made a mistake, I had also disobeyed my parents who had requested I only drive ONE friend home from school on any given day. I had 3…
I was only 16 and worked a part time job for minimum wage (this was 20 years ago so somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.50/hour). I knew it would take months to pay off that bill but my parents had taught me something from day 1 that made me not hesitate in my offer.
THE ONE SKILL WE AREN’T TEACHING OUR CHILDREN
And as I’m raising my own two girls, it’s one of my top priorities…to instill in them this understanding of personal responsibility.
The notion that we are responsible for our actions…and sometimes our inactions.
We can’t blame someone else for choices that we made. In fact, it’s this notion of teaching them personal responsibility that led me to start telling them every single day to “Make good choices.”
For more on these critical 3 words you should be telling your children, click here:
But I can’t tell you that this is an easy thing to do. I definitely fail at it. I make excuses for my girls…they are tired, they are sick, it’s been a long week at school.
Because it’s hard to admit that sometimes your kids just have bad behavior.
And it’s even harder to admit that some days YOU have bad behavior.
But if we take the time to teach our children personal responsibility when they are young, we wouldn’t see high schoolers blaming work, lack of sleep, being out with friends….any excuse you can think of…for not getting their homework turned in.
We wouldn’t see grade schoolers who blame their teacher for not getting a good grade.
There wouldn’t be drunk drivers who blame the bar for serving them too many drinks.
There wouldn’t be adults who blame their boss for losing their job (when really it was the fact that they came in to work late every day and were always on their phone).
You see, the seeds we are planting now will be sown for years and years.
I remember, about a year after my own wreck, one of my friends totaling his car. And his reasons were a lot less naive than mine.
He had been drinking and driving and ran off the road.
Thank God he nor anyone else was hurt. But I figured surely, there would be some pretty severe consequences for his actions.
Within a week, he had a brand new, even better car than he had before.
And all I could think, even at 17, was what in the world did his parents just do to him? Could they not see what a disservice they had done.
They were at the crux of an opportunity – to choose to either teach their son personal responsibility or to bail him out and teach him that his actions were excusable.
I’m sure my friend was grateful they chose the latter but 20 years later, I can imagine that lesson is still paying dividends. And not the good kind…
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
The other day, my sweet Hannah, who is 6, was feeling a little under the weather. She just could not figure out a way to play and get along with her younger sister. Which was definitely out of the ordinary. Finally I could hear Hazel crying upstairs.
Having heard everything downstairs, I told Hannah to go to her room.
“But mom! Hazel doesn’t want to play Barbies with me and it just made me mad.”
To which I replied – Hannah what do you think is the real problem here? Do you think Hazel not playing barbies made you mad or do you think you’re not feeling well and as a result, you were impossible to play with? Were you being someone that YOU would have wanted to play with?
Even a 6 year old could recognize her contribution here. Even at this age, she could take personal responsibility for her actions.
Sure, she didn’t feel well but that can’t be an excuse. There are lots of days I don’t feel great but I don’t get to take it out on everyone else.
That’s life. Life is NOT going to hand you a perfect day every day (or even most days).
It’s up to you to take responsibility for your actions. And it’s not an easy lesson to learn because it is so much easier to shift blame. To blame the weather, your sibling, your husband….
But if we take the initiative to teach our children personal responsibility when they are young, they will grow into the adults we WANT to be around. The ones who are not perfect and make mistakes – but own up to them and accept the consequences when they do.
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