Teaching Responsibility

Every adult wants to think that he or she sets a good example. It can pertain to behavior and actions of all types but it is particularly important if there is a moral lesson involved. That’s how we pass on our customs and lore to the young. They learn by watching and also by listening to what you say. It is all about teaching responsibility a lot of the time. Kids don’t get it by osmosis. They have to live with those who show how it’s done. You have to pick your moments so that your lesson in life has some meaning. You don’t let your children run wild. You reign in their behavior with instruction and guidance. Sometimes that means you get in fights. It goes with the territory of parenthood.

Usually you wait for the right occasion to say your piece and impart your wisdom, but sometimes they don’t seem that important. Take one occasion when I had an argument with my son who forgot to replace the hot tub cover after he’d used it with some friends. This is how I knew he had used it, and without permission at all. We have strict rules about these things in the family and were displeased that he didn’t abide by them. We were out and I am sure there was that great temptation to uncover the tub and invite friends over for some fun. It probably thought that we would never find out. The cover gave it all away. It was a simple mistake. He certainly heard about this behavior from us. He violated our trust. When it comes to water, there are issues of safety about which we have concerns. We would hate to have an accident happen in our midst.

The argument was tense and it brought home the point. I don’t expect usage of the hot tub in the near future without a prior discussion. The fact that he invited kids over was a point of contention with him. He wanted to be popular with his friends and neighbors and the hot tub was a big draw. We felt bad about the argument because we could certainly understand his desire to please others. Also, he often uses the hot tub when we are at home supervising. We used this incidence to teach responsibility and we hope that it took.

Now, when he wants to use the hot tub he must tell us in person or at least leave a clear note. He cannot invite friends unless an adult is present, which could be in the yard or just the house. We like him to be able to entertain and that’s what the hot tub is for. As long as the cover is intact, we will have no telltale signs that he has violated our family policy. We prefer not to have heated arguments, however, and hope that a simple explanation of what was wrong will suffice. It is a better method to be a parent and not an ogre.