“How many times do I have to tell you to clean your room?” Who owns the problem? Who should have the responsibility in the family for assigning jobs and making sure they are done? When does personal responsibility infringe on the rights of other members of a family?
Who is Responsible for Home Maintenance?
What constitutes a neat and tidy room may not seem like such a big deal, but it represents a microcosm of how the family works together and how personal responsibility is taught and learned. Even though your child picks up his shoes without being reminded and turns in his homework assignments, it won’t guarantee his success in life. It will, however, go far to help him to develop the characteristics and attributes that employers and mates look for.
Why should a child keep his room neat? Many children say they don’t care whether it is neat or dirty, so why should it matter to anyone else? Unless it is a health or safety hazard, or things are getting lost and broken why are you telling him again and again? Then comes the age old question, “What is neat?” The answer certainly differs with a ten year old child and a thirty five year old Mom. Who is setting the standard of how clean a room must be to be acceptable.
In the next few minutes, as you read this article, you will find two different and distinct components of responsibility: outward and inward.
1. Outward responsibility deals with everyday life skills such as doing chores, cleaning the room, doing assigned chores, brushing teeth, returning videos on time, and feeding the dog. Each family has its own list of what they consider important, so we will not discuss particular tasks. Rather, we want you to focus on nurturing a positive attitude and good habits in your children – habits that will help them to be productive and reliable.
If your child has the responsibility to clean his room and you clean it for him, he has learned a valuable lesson. He has learned that if he stalls long enough or whines convincingly enough that you will step in. He has no “ownership” of the task. It is not really his job, it is yours and you occasionally get him to do it.
2. Inward responsibility deals with attitudes, beliefs, and values. Being inwardly responsible means admitting mistakes, treating others as you would like to be treated, being unselfish, and caring about other people’s health, property and feelings. We frequently get bogged down with the frustration of dirty rooms and forget about more important factors like inward motivation and owning the problem.
Effective discipline and mindful parenting is setting reasonable limits on our children at different developmental stages but giving them choices so they can learn to form their own opinions.
Help Them To Help Themselves
Our goal is to help them become self-disciplined and to learn to think and problem solve without asking or being told what to do in every situation. By helping them to help themselves, they become much more competent at life skills.
Aptitude and competence or the ability to accomplish a task is not nearly as important and vital to a happy life as attitude and confidence. This is the area where we help our children build self-esteem, problem solving skills, a can-do outlook, and positive expectations toward life.
Whole Family Wins When Everyone Takes Responsibility
A cooperative environment is one where everyone in the family wins; there are no losers. By learning to support and assist each other in small daily tasks, we set the stage for encouragement and a willingness to become self-reliant.
Good luck. As a word of encouragement, I have to tell you that, of our grown children, the ones who were the messiest as kids are the neatest as adults! Hang in there; there is hope for the future.
This article is written for your education use and sharing by Judy H. Wright, parent educator, author and international speaker in “finding the heart of the story in the journey of life.” Please go to http://www.ArtichokePress.com [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"] for a full listing of books, tapes, tele-classes and free online magazine.