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Good Parenting 2017: How to Teach Responsibility to Your Children

Whenever parents are asked about the traits they like their children to have at present and as adults, one of the most common responses is “to be responsible”. There are many meanings of being responsible such as keeping one’s word, meeting one’s commitments, being dependable, doing something to one’s ability, being accountable for one’s behavior, acknowledging mistakes, and being an asset to one’s family, community, and society. Parents often associate responsibility with obedience. There are many parents wanting their children to do what they are asked to do, to follow their directions without questioning their authority. But these are not the qualities of being responsible because these are behaviors of being obedient.

Over time, many parents want their children to accept ownership for a chore or task, and their children do it because it needs to be done, and eventually they accept that it’s their obligation to do it. With constant reminder and practice, they may even initiate doing a task over time because it needs to be done and not because they are being told to do so, which is an attitude of being responsible. Parents may need to give up their own exact timetable and how they like things to be done, and allow their children to move from being obedient to being responsible according to on their own pace. It is important to allow your children to do things you ask them to do in their own way so they feel encouraged, having a sense of pride and accomplishment, fostering a sense of responsibility. The issue about the extent of involvement you need to do when helping your children in meeting their commitments and completing their tasks is raised when considering the transition from obedience to responsibility.

There are many parents who do not want their children to suffer or fail, so they do so much for their children, and when this happens, they don’t learn to take responsibility by themselves. On the other hand, there are also times when our children need our guidance and support for them to learn how to be responsible. It is important to find the balance between under-parenting and over-managing by knowing and deciding the most appropriate time to step in, and when it is more effective to let your children go so they can develop maturity and responsible behaviors. Joining extracurricular activities, keeping a pet such as a butterfly koi or puppy and giving your children household chores or tasks are just some of the things you can ask your children to do in order to develop their sense of responsibility. Being a parent is a lifelong responsibility, and we want to teach our children to be responsible for what they do, and their best role model is us.