Raising a family can often seem like the 8th wonder of the world. Each parent hopes their children grows into a caring, compassionate, giving, and responsible adult. While each of us hope our children become these things and more, we often find ourselves at a standstill between late night gaming binges and missed homework assignments, wondering as to how our children will become the responsible adults we had hoped they would be.
Allowing for Growth
While there are many books, manuals, and online resources for parents to dive into and explore the many ways in which they can teach responsibility to children, Love & Logic is the model utilized here at Mind Spa. The interesting twist of Love & Logic (and the title of this article, quite frankly) is that they insist that you don’t teach your children how to be responsible. RATHER, you allow your child opportunities to teach themselves. Love & Logic firmly stands in the notion that parents provide opportunities for children to make responsible decisions within reasonable limits to ensure our children are growing and reaching the milestones of life’s lessons.
As the authors of Love & Logic (Cline & Fay, 2006) state, “Parents who raise responsible kids spend very little time and energy worrying about their kids’ responsibilities; they worry more about how to let the children encounter significant learning opportunities for their irresponsibility” (p.34). At the heart of this quote is the idea that our children need and should learn from their mistakes to grow in responsibility and in self-esteem by learning from what went not-so-good when they made a decision and how future decisions can have a more powerful and positive impact in their lives.
Try This at Home
Love & Logic is a simple yet complex notion—one that cannot truly be explained in a single blog post. However, I can provide you with three tips to guide you in beginning to allow your children to make responsible decisions:
1. Children are what you think they are; As a parent, you play an integral part in the makings of a positive and high-achieving individual. If we demand our children to “Stop arguing!”, “Shut up!” or “Turn off the television!” we are really telling them “You can’t figure out the answer for yourself.” Instead of using put-downs, emphasize their strengths while allowing them to fail in nonthreatening situations.
2. Children’s mistakes are their opportunities; Oftentimes, we put ourselves in the middle of our children’s problems because we want to help. Unfortunately, this does a great disservice to children to guide them in making responsible choices. Children who deal directly with their own problems are moved to solve them. Ask your child, “What do you think you should do about this situation?” instead of answering that question for them.
3. Set limits through thinking words: We allow our children to make mistakes, but we do not give them permission to invoke a variety of misbehavior. Telling our children what to think is counterproductive, but setting limits and offering choices forces the thinking back on them. The trick in setting limits is to be direct and consistent in following through—make it stick!
Nolan M. Hunt, MSW, PCSW