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How to Teach Responsibility

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Responsibility is something that doesn’t come easily. It comes with practice. Chief shares with us how we can cultivate responsibility in our children.

Scripture

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

Galatians 6:4-5

Reflect

On my first day of college when I went to get my student ID and verify all my classes I found out I had been dropped from all my classes. I felt a strong surge of panic rush through me as the worst case version of this story played out in my head, ending with me living in a gutter.

After some encouragement from a friend and a good night’s rest, I took responsibility and dealt with the situation at hand. A life in the gutter was narrowly avoided.

God teaches us to be reliant on Him and blesses us with friends, family and the church to support us in our time of need, but He also instructs us to “carry our own load”.

Being independent or self-sufficient can be negative traits, but taking responsibility for our life is a mandate. How do we teach our children to own their problems and take responsibility for their lives?

Entrust Responsibilities – Give age appropriate responsibilities and expect them to get done. Learn to be okay with tasks that take you two minutes to accomplish, taking ten minutes (or more!) for your four year old to complete. The goal is not finishing the task, but instilling responsibility. For younger kids:

  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Clear the table after meals
  • Make their bed
  • Feed the pet
  • Dust the furniture

For older kids:

  • Wash the car
  • Clean their bathroom
  • Bathe the dog
  • Mow the lawn
  • Make their lunch

Give Them the Tools – Think about all the things you have to do as an adult. Have you passed on those things to your child?

  • How to make and balance a budget
  • How to make minor car and home repairs
  • How to use a bank
  • What to do after a car accident
  • How to file your taxes

All these things not only equip, but also give your child confidence to deal with the things they will have to face one day as an adult.

Don’t Bail Them Out – There are certainly times we need to come to the rescue of our children, but most of the time we are unwilling to let them fail or suffer the consequences for anything. Have you ever found yourself doing your child’s homework? An earned “F” will teach them much more than an unearned “A”.

The added bonus of responsibility is not only being confident and equipped to carry their own load, but they might find themselves in the position of being able to carry the load of another in need as Christ commands us to do (Gal 6:2).

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