Adventures into the Madness

The Mom Frants – Responsibility


I have been blessed with the opportunity to hang out with some amazing parents. This in itself is probably the best wisdom for any mom: Hang out with other Moms! In my case, a singular soundbite has founded much of my parenting thinking for the past several years. A friend at a table discussion shared a soundbite from a news article she’d recently read. Something along the lines of:

“We live in an era where parents believe their children are brilliant geniuses, but give them no responsibility.”

The phrase struck deep and remains a touchstone I return to frequently. It speaks to our job as parents which is to nurture our children into productive, independent adults. Sometimes we let other distractions lead us from making decisions that support that long view:

  • Wanting a task done “right” (i.e. “our way”) rather letting a kid do it wrong as they learn how.
  • Wanting a task done quickly rather than giving the kid time to do it at their speed.
  • Not giving kids a chance to experience failure so they know how to deal with and learn from it.
  • Praising our kids for their accomplishments rather than for the work that went into an accomplishment.

Each of these are areas I have found difficult to address in my own parenting. But when we consider that children have to learn everything, how to be responsible is just as much a learned skill as writing our ABCs or adding 2+2. Even more challenging, for a child to learn responsibility, he/she must be held accountable for the task they’ve been given AND they must be given control over their behavior and decisions as they practice. A real world example:

My husband is a technology and marketing consultant. He builds websites for small and medium sized businesses all the time. He can tell a project that will run smoothly from a project that will end up as a train wreck from almost the first pitch meeting based on one important observation: Does the person/project manager responsible for the project have control over the decisions? When the “responsible” manager is not given control over decisions and is constantly forced to collect approval or change plans based on third party interests within the organization, a project will be perpetually delayed and constantly changed. On the flip side, if the manager with control and influence over the decisions is not held accountable (to timelines and/or performance goals), that manager is not incented to work efficiently or even cordially with the rest of the team.

I find it a constant struggle to identify areas of responsibility that will challenge my children to grow and practice this important skill.  Am I giving them age appropriate responsibility? Am I challenging them enough? Should I be stricter and expect more from them? Are my expectations TOO high? It’s probably the area I worry most about as a parent. From many conversations with friends, I know I’m not the only one worrying. From many conversations with acquaintances who have adult children living at home or failing to get through college and into careers, it’s a concern that’s well worth worrying about!

The thing I’m most grateful for is this simple phrase, though. For me it crystalizes the issue and re-focuses me on the long view. My children ARE brilliant geniuses (of course, hee hee!) But I try to acknowledge  every day that this is not enough.


Want to Raise Responsible Children? Try Giving Them Responsibilities – www.suchasmartmom.com

Love & Logic Institute

    posted under Family

    Email will not be published

    Website example

    Your Comment: