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 –

    1. Do everything for your children – just let them have fun.
    2. Accept sloppy, tardy work
    3. Accept your children’s lame excuses
    4. Forget to check to see if the task was completed and acceptable
    5. Regularly excuse your children from their responsibilities because something else came up
    6. Don’t carry through on consequences
    7. Protect your children from touch jobs that are challenging or new
    8. Act irresponsibly yourself (you are a role model)
    9. Encourage your children to see how the task will benefit their life (as opposed to someone else’s life)
    10. 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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