Teaching Kids to Handle Responsibility
Teaching our children responsibility is right up there in importance with teaching them to love and care about others. I have two children who are older now and throughout their lives we have been a very close and loving family. Teaching them to love as they grew up was not enough for one of my children.
With both parents working and getting home tired with hectic schedules I did not always take the time to make sure my kids (particularly one of them) took care of their responsibilities. Sometimes I would even do their work for them because it was easier at the time. It is not easier now, not only on me but on one of my kids as well.
Children need to be equipped to take care of themselves as adults and when we do not train them properly in their childhood they will suffer (and nine times out of ten you will too) when they get to be adults. I am watching my youngest right now in his struggle to take care of his responsibilities, to keep jobs, and to live a balanced life. And it is due to improper instruction and follow through on the part of us as his parents. When you are raising kids and rushing through life going from one thing to the other you sometimes miss what is important even if you are very loving and close.
It is so important to give your children age appropriate responsibilities and do not do the work for them. I can tell you this honestly from hind sight. I never considered the damage I was doing in raising my children by taking on their responsibilities. My oldest child is a girl and she was an over-achiever and she would do anything to please, including work around the house and see a need and meet it. My son never wanted to do any chores and needed to be supervised and made to do work and he looked for any and every way to get out of working. That is where I failed him because of instead of making sure he followed through sometimes (probably more times than I want to believe) I would do the work for him. I was tired and it was easier at the time but in the long run he has the greatest burden of suffering and I along with him because I love him so dearly. It is so important to watch how you love your children; is it for their good or is it just easier?
Love is not always an emotion or an act of affection, love is looking down the road and considering what you can do for your child to make their life work as a responsible adult. Give them age appropriate chores and make sure they are consistent and follow through. There is nothing wrong with helping them sometimes if the circumstances arise but never do it for them.
Another thing I would like to mention is making your kids own up to their own mistakes. Taking up for your children is a delicate matter. While you do not want them to be bullied by other students or teachers you have to be careful that it is not something they can handle themselves or something they have created and now want you to fix. I have watched other parents over the years; those that are ready to jump in and take up for their child no matter what and those that never take up for their children at all. Neither situation turns out well for the kids. It is so hard in the world we live in today to know when to intervene and how to help without taking the responsibility off of the child. You must be very wise and observant so that you will not take problem solving skills away from your child when you are trying to protect them. We can not protect them for the rest of their lives and it is so very important that they learn how to deal with minor problems on their own. I am not talking about very young children; you will know when they are ready and you should talk to them about handling certain situations on their own and be standing by so you can help only if you are needed.
Since my children have gotten older I have seen far too many children who feel a sense of entitlement, which makes them feel that they deserve to be handed things on a silver platter. There are so many kids now who have been kicked out of their homes and so many others who are running their homes that it is frightening. I may be seeing more of this than a lot of you because we live in a very large metropolitan city. My son’s high school is supposed to hold three-thousand and it has four-thousand children. They force them to go one way in the halls at different times of the day and map out their schedules accordingly. Boys are no longer allowed to get into an argument and settle it like boys or the police are called in and they are ticketed and expelled. Life today in schools is much harder than in my day and I am overwhelmed by things that are going on.
I praise God that I know Jesus as my Savior and that He and my heavenly Father are there at all times to help, encourage, and strengthen me and my family. Things will be just as hard if not harder when my son gets out into the world and I am realizing that I have done him no favors. I do not want anyone to think that I have taken a hands off approach and am backing out of his life because I have not. I am however praying and asking my Lord to parent through me and not to take over in situations that my son can well handle.
It is hard to start to let go of some of the responsibility for taking care of your children but it is essential if you want them to grow up to be responsible and capable adults. You cannot take care of them forever nor do you want to. You should equip your children to be able to make their own decisions and live with the consequences of them. It can be hard to see but if you start when they are younger than it is much easier on the both of you. After all, a disaster in the third grade is far less harmful to their future than a disaster in their sophomore year of high school.
If you are just starting out I would say to do your very best to give your children all the tools they need to handle life without you. Not in the beginning but progressively giving them more and more responsibility and letting them suffer some minor consequences before the consequences become major and there is nothing you can do for them. If they are handicapped because of your love there will come a time when it will get them into trouble that you can not get them out of and you will both suffer. Love them for their good, do what you do with their future in mind and when you get to that point it will be a cake walk.
Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.