My cell phone starts buzzing in my pocket. Checking the caller id, I notice it is the middle school.
Oops, I guess my daughter’s “stomach ache” must not have been related to the big math test. I answer expecting to hear the familiar voice of the nurse. Instead it is not one I recognize.
A million thoughts run through my head in the 2 seconds it takes to identify himself.
My daughter, Abigail, was walking towards the cafeteria when she spotted a wad of twenty dollar bills on the floor. Immediately, she brought it to one of the registers and turned it in. She didn’t think anything of it, because it was the right thing to do. When administration found out what she had done, they called her down to the principal's office to thank her. Turns out, the money belonged to a volunteer at the school. After helping out at the book fair, she was heading out to pay her electric bill when the money must have fell out of her purse. She was panicked because she didn’t have extra funds to cover what she owed.
Abigail had saved the day.
The assistant principal commended me for raising such a kind and compassionate child. He stated that another child may not have acted in the same way. Abigail placed herself in someone else’s shoes. Do unto other as you would like done for you.
Tweens and teens face so many temptations that they do not know how to deal with effectively. It is important for us to raise children that can show empathy and be kind to one another. While I try to encourage my children to give back to the community through service based projects, the lessons they learn day to day are the ones that truly matter.
My husband and I set boundaries and hold our children accountable for their choices. It is not our job to rescue our children from every failure. I am slowly figuring out that my goal is not to make sure that my children complete every task perfectly and fully. Yes, I want them get to the bus every morning, be on time for school, get their homework turned in on time, and so on, but the responsibility needs to lie within them.
Children need to fail and experience consequences for making poor choices and decisions. Through these life experiences they will learn what it truly means to take responsibility for their actions. Not studying for a test will cause lower grades and driving over the speed limit may result in a ticket. In those cases, I need to step back and allow them to rectify the situation on their own. Afterwards, I can talk to them about how they can do better next time. When someone breaks a house rule, they know they have ample opportunity to earn back our trust.
As a parent, I need to lead by example. If my children hear me saying one thing and then doing the opposite, they will be more likely to follow my example, rather than follow my command. If I have made a commitment and take my responsibility seriously, I teach my children that I am trustworthy and reliable. My children watch us very carefully and monitor our every move. They have witnessed me and my husband being kind to others and working to give back to our community. Through our actions we teach them that being responsible is just a given. Talking with our children about what it means to live up to their commitments and providing them with the opportunities to prove their dependability is the first step to raising responsible children that think about others feelings before they act.