A lot of us parents really want to know: How can you make your child responsible? When do you become responsible? What is responsibility, anyway?
Yesterday, my fifteen-year-old son and I were hanging around the dining room reading after a late lunch. He had to leave on his bike for work in a few minutes, but was absorbed in his book. As he was moving over to the couch to become more comfortable, I thought for a moment, I may have to remind him to leave. But then I saw him take out his cell phone and set the alarm. Later, he walked out of the house exactly on time.
So suddenly, the kid is responsible. How did that happen? I gained some insight into responsibility in that moment. Responsibility isn’t something you can act. I mean, we’re always telling our kids to “act responsibly.” But do we really want an act? After all, you can tell you’re actually responsible when it’s no longer a big deal. When you just do what makes sense, and it’s natural.
My son and I talked about it later. I could tell that having me tell him I saw signs of responsibility in him meant a lot to him, especially since it wasn’t something he had to expend any effort to do. It just came naturally to him, so he didn’t feel like it was a lucky moment or that he was fooling me. He just got the job done, and I appreciated it.
Huh. I think I’m learning that the spiritual qualities I want my children to express are already in there, innate, and they will come out in their own time. Rather than demanding that the kids “act” the qualities I want them to show (for I don’t really want an act, I want the real thing), I need to see them as fully formed already, including all the qualities they need to be happy and successful. And then just wait, ready to witness, for those qualities to come forth genuinely and permanently. Because they will. Because they’re innate.
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