Friday, June 8, 2012

Ode to personal responsibility

Personal responsibility. I have it. Everyone should have it. Obviously, some people's mamas did not teach them personal responsibility. It's ok if you don't know all the answers. It's ok if you did something wrong. Admit it and apologize. Admit it and learn from it. Admit it and find someone who does know the answers.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves in adults. It drives me insane when someone blames someone else for their problems, misfortunes, or mistakes. Take for example.....on a famous cooking show the other day, a chef "wasn't able" to complete his Caesar salad because the person that prepped his station forgot the anchovies. That person admitted it and apologized, but then when questioned, the Caesar Salad Chef told everyone it was the prepper's fault and he was unable to complete his dish. Now what is so wrong with him just going and getting the dang anchovies himself and completing the dish? It is ultimately his responsibility.

This is something that I desperately want to teach my children. Things will not always go the way you plan it, and when that happens, look into yourself and figure out what you need to do to fix it. Admit your shortcomings and figure out how to make yourself better.

While personal responsibility is a pretty abstract concept for children of my boys' age, they can understand more about their responsibilities around the house. They are 7 and 9 and I don't really need to be as hands-on with them. I am not the keeper of their toys, shoes, clothing etc. I don't know where everything is. Every single day, we have the same discussion:

Jansen: "Mom, where are my shoes, I can't find them!"
Mom: "I don't know. Where are they supposed to be?"
Jansen: "In my closet. But they are not. You have to help me find them."
Mom: "First of all, whose shoes are they?"
Jansen: "Mine"(sulking)
Mom: "And where do I tell you to put them every day so that you will always know where they are?"
Jansen: "In the closet"
Mom: "If they are not in the closet, I don't know what to tell you. They are your responsibility to find."
Jansen: "AGH!!!!"

We could insert almost anything into that conversation. Mom is constantly asked to find their DS, their shoes, socks, their black marker, a certain DS game, the tape, a certain snack out of the pantry, that so-and-so book...and on and on and on....

This summer, we are working hard on chores, responsibilities, and independence. They are not at such a hands-on level anymore. You can pick out your own clothes. If you are not interested in eating what I have fixed, you are capable of making your own meal. You can put away your own laundry, toys, and dirty dishes. You can keep track of your shoes. You can clean your mess out of the car...every time. If you continue to pee on the toilet seat or not flush the toilet when you are done, you will clean the toilet each time.

No, I will not listen to you whine. No, I will not listen to you cry. No, I will not take responsibility for your items. Yes, I am the meanest mom in the world. I will accept the award for that!


  1. amen!! i totally agree with you, we're working on that too. if they don't learn it early their whole life is hard and not as productive as they could be.

  2. Great post. The thing I'm trying to do is prepare my kids for when I'm no longer around.