Of course we all want our children to be responsible – but I find it is the subtle things that hinder us from reaching our goals. When it comes to our children developing a strong work ethic we need to check to see how the things we do may be affecting their training.
Do we –
- Do everything for your children – just let them have fun.
- Accept sloppy, tardy work
- Accept your children’s lame excuses
- Forget to check to see if the task was completed and acceptable
- Regularly excuse your children from their responsibilities because something else came up
- Don’t carry through on consequences
- Protect your children from touch jobs that are challenging or new
- Act irresponsibly yourself (you are a role model)
- Encourage your children to see how the task will benefit their life (as opposed to someone else’s life)
- Encourage friendships that only meet your child’s needs
In the context of family life – each one of these things has a counter-balance. There may be a good reason for doing one of the above things, there may be a season for one of these things to be happening – but it is when we become characterised by these types of parenting decisions and when these habits are established mindlessly in our parenting that irresponsibility will set in and become a habit of your child’s heart.
We tend to see irresponsibility as an action – or lack thereof – but it dwells firstly in the heart.
Irresponsibility is an attitude – it is an attitude that believes I don’t have to, someone else will, I don’t care.
These attitudes can start growing in a young child though we may see them more clearly in a pre-teen/teen. If your child already believes these things then you have to re-establish the truth of personal responsibility. Choose one area where they show a lack of responsibility and address it. And then work on another.
We must teach Responsibility
Remember when we are teaching anything (or re-teaching) our process is:
- Teach – Not only teach the actions you want but talk about they why behind those actions – the moral truth you want them to understand is responsibility, it is about them being an individual and taking ownership for their thoughts, actions and words.
- Practice – give them plenty of time to practice the new habits you are working on – remember they aren’t habit just yet – they are just new choices, new actions. Give gentle reminders and encouragements to think about what they are doing.
- Expect – once you see your child starting to take ownership then you can expect them to do it. At this point it has become a habit. It is at this point you can add a consequence if they choose to be irresponsible because you know they are able and have chosen not to be responsible.
The role of being a parent is to do ourselves out of a job. Our job involves teaching, training, helping and encouraging – and as we do our kids take on more responsibility and we take on less.
That last sentence is a key: We must take on less responsibility in areas where we want our kids to be responsible. We cannot hover, we have to let go and let them do their life – that is afterall, what we’ve taught and trained them for.
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