No one ever wants to teach their children Irresponsibility – 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 the character traits of a strong work ethic we need to check to see if there are some subtle things we are doing that may be limiting their understanding of what it means to be responsible.
Do we do any one of these 10 things?
- Do everything for your children – just let them have fun
- Accept sloppy, tardy work
- Accept your children’s excuses (even if we know they are lame)
- Forget to check to see if the task was completed and acceptable
- Regularly excuse your children from their responsibilities because something better or fun came up
- Don’t carry through on consequences
- Protect your children from tough jobs that are challenging or new
- Act irresponsibly yourself (you are a role model)
- Encourage your children to see how everything benefits them instead of broadening it to benefit others as well
- 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 in terms of the teaching and training. Our goal isn’t for our children to pick up our responsibilities, but rather for them to function well with their responsibilities.
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 after all, what we’ve taught and trained them for.
Chores Teach Character: Character is not a head-knowledge thing – it is a life of making wise choices and chore time gives our children an opportunity to make those choices, and grow in character.
Inappropriate Responsibility Needs to be Avoided in your Family: Inappropriate responsibility happens in a family when a child takes on more authority than he or she should. We need to remember that the responsibility of family life is the parent’s, not the child’s.
How Responsible are your Children: We teach our children to be responsible but if we never test them, we never know how responsible they really are.
How to Teach Children to Work: Teaching our children to work hard is an important part of preparing them for their future but how do we do it when we don’t know what their future is?