Along with honesty, empathy and integrity, I regard accountability a very important core value.
The “Yes…but” Game
Do you play the “yes…but” game at your house? Too many times parents are quick to “move on” if their child has done something wrong. “Yes, I wrecked the car mom…but it wasn’t my fault!”
There’s no accountability!
Let’s start with a simple, clear definition of accountability:
“the quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”
I immediately think of a T.V. commercial that has been running recently. Basically a young teenage boy has had an accident. He tells his parents that he’s already called the insurance company and how smart of them to have “accident forgiveness!” The parent immediately responds that he’s lost the car for 6 weeks! The boy says “yep, got it!” As simple and somewhat humorous as that is, it sums it up well.
Taking responsibility as this young man did is great, but holding him accountable for his actions will cause him to think hard about driving the car in a bad area the next time.
Are you dealing with bad grades, staying up too late playing video games or a general bad attitude? Maybe you’re witnessing more risky behavior with your son like experimenting with drugs, alcohol, sex and abusive behavior to name a few. The hard truth is this. He needs to be held accountable for bad choices by applying natural consequences. This is a critical time; teach him the difference between need versus want.
If he’s not held accountable and doesn’t take responsibility it will affect him the rest of his life.
Lessons are learned when we first own our accountability, and then take responsibility for our actions.
The examples and situations are all around us every day and too many to mention here. The point is not to ignore or pass up the opportunity to help your son grow. Sometimes it’s as easy as the T.V commercial example; realistically it’s never simple and easy! Avoid the urge to “move on” when your son says, “I’m sorry….but!”
Some perceive teaching accountability and responsibility to be tough love. My perception is its nurturing love, at times that feels like tough love. It’s teaching your child how to grow into a healthy, happy mature adult. If that requires tough/nurturing love, in the end it’s worth it. The lessons he learns today will last a lifetime.
Thanks for this valuable post. The ad also shows a couple of other valuable parenting lessons. Mom told the kid just once, he had learned earlier not to argue with what she had to say. What a valuable lesson for parents: Tell them once! The “Natural consequences” idea is perfect. Sometimes it helps both parent and child understand it by having them write down the potential actions followed by their consequence which both agree on. It helps too, for him to suggest what the consequence will be. Then sigh a contract. The signing of a contract helps him feel in charge, and give him proof you want to treat him like the adult he wants to become.
Thanks, again for what you do for kids, families, and society. I appreciate it.
Perfect! Thank you for your comments and insight. It takes a village!