Monday, November 8, 2010

Taking Responsibility

Is your child driving you crazy? misbehaving? disrespectful?
overstimulated? overindulged? shy? unruly?

Here's a principle for parenting that may bring some clarity:

Take 100% of the responsibility for your parenting
and 0% of the responsibility for your child's choices.

When your child makes bad choices, it is not your failure. This is true of your two year-old and your 20 year-old.
You can't control your kids' behavior.

Seriously, let's go over that again: You cannot control your kids' behavior.

They are people, making choices, failing, succeeding, making their way, becoming who they are.
You are a different person: the parent. (Does this sound crazy, or surprisingly obvious?)

This may sound like I'm encouraging us (parents) to abdicate the difficult work of parenting well. Actually, the opposite is true: Parenting well requires great attentiveness to your children and the little people they are becoming. It requires deep sacrifices of things we may not like to give up. It requires planning and prayer and follow-through. Honestly taking full responsibility for your role as parent will expose the ways you truly do fail. And we all fail. A lot. But, let's look squarely at what it means to be a responsible parent instead of feeling guilty for things over which we have no control.

Let's stop berating ourselves for our kids' bad behavior. Let's focus in on those things for which we should hold ourselves accountable. Our job is to create the environment, set the tone, communicate expectations clearly, provide appropriate consequences, give lots of love, and practice tons of patience.

So, think about your parenting. Are you being deliberate--proactive and not reactive--in the way you parent? Do you know
why you require that thing? allow the other thing? organize your day this way? discipline this or that, or not?

Take all the responsibility for parenting intentionally, thoughtfully, and consistently. Take none of the responsibility for the results.


  1. Betsy and I need to remember this on a daily basis. Great thoughts. And that facial expression on Jack is amazing.

  2. A good reminder for me as a teacher, too!


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