Learning to Be Responsible

Personal responsibility is neither caught nor taught.   Rather, it must be learned.  Being responsible is the opposite of being entitled.  Kids tend to consider responsibility solely in terms of “doing what they are told to do”.  I enjoy listening to my grandchildren, the oldest being four- year- old Josiah pictured below.  Just yesterday, I asked Josiah, who is often told to be responsible, what the word meant.  He said, “It means that I have to be quiet”.  (Josiah chats loudly to anyone who will listen all day long)  One day last week, when he was being particularly naughty, I asked him the same question to which he replied, “It means I have to obey”. What does responsible really mean? To be wholly responsible means far more than merely submitting to authority and doing what’s been asked. Truly responsible people own the condition of their attitudes, thoughts, and feelings. Truly responsible people solve the problems they create.  Truly responsible people are accountable for their choices and decisions and understand that success comes by way of effort and hard work. Irresponsible individuals, on the other hand, see life as merely happening to them.  Since they cannot make life happen for themselves, they come to believe things should be done for them. They are victims who feel they have no choice. Last week I shopped at JCPenney’s.  Standing in line behind a clearly distraught woman, I heard the clerk ask the familiar question, “Did you find everything you needed today?”  The lady sadly replied, “I shopped for hours and no one helped me find clothes that looked good on me. Everything I...

Raising Un-entitled Kids- Part I

“Pity is one of the noblest emotions available to human beings; self-pity is possibly the most ignoble…It is an incapacity, a crippling emotional disease that severely distorts our perception of reality …a narcotic that leaves its addicts wasted and derelict.”  Eugene H. Peterson in Earth and Altar Young people are generally full of themselves, but a new study suggests that today’s kids are far more self-centered than preceding generations.  The results of a recent analysis of current and recent college students show a steady increase in narcissism since 1982.  Today’s college crowd can be characterized by a high expectation of others, and a low ambition for themselves.  They resent those who expect them to achieve through study and effort, and have little appreciation for the opportunity for an education.  They demand entertainment and excitement yet are unaware of the sacrifices made by their parents. Why the increase in narcissism?  And what can parents do to reverse this trend?  To begin with we must learn to identify self-pity. Self pity creeps into one’s thinking easily and subtly.  If allowed to linger, this unhealthy emotion takes up residence. Feeling sorry for oneself is both addictive and self perpetuating – and it feels good to our sin nature.  Any day can be turned into an opportunity for self pity. Self pity is an emotional “disease” with crippling effects.  How do we keep our kids off the slippery slope of self pity and inoculate our children against it? First, we need to teach kids the difference between self pity and genuine sadness.   We all feel sad at times. Sadness is a healthy response...