Sometimes as parents, we think of accountability as being responsible for our wrongs, but it involves more than that. It involves accounting for your stewardships as well. The most important of those stewardships is your children. We need to teach children accountability before they go out into a world that will not teach them as lovingly as we would.
So what should we hold children accountable for?
Children need to understand about making choices and the conseqences of them. From what they wear, their choice of entertainment and who they spend time with play an important role in who they become.
Sass, smart-aleckiness, rudeness, and verbal bullying should not be allowed. I knew parents whose children would tell them they were idiots and the parent's response was, "Thank you for sharing your opinion." Opinions and discussions are one thing, rudeness is quite another and if they don't learn to speak respectfully at home, their chances of being successful 'out there' are diminished.
Accidents happen and happen often to children whose bodies are growing faster than they can keep up with. Spills, breaks and other assorted damages will occur often, but accidents though they may be, children should be responsible for making them right. Don't clean up the small messes or you'll be expected to clean up the larger ones that will follow. Make it a standard procedure that accidents happen and that's okay, but children need to clean it up.
These are little people who have not yet learned that every choice has a consequence. They will make bad decisions and mistakes and when they do choose to do wrong, hold their feet to the fire. If they cheat, steal, lie or otherwise choose badly, let them be accountable by making it right.
Their personal belongings
Whether they purchase it or you do, once it belongs to them, they should be accountable for it's care and maintenance. Teaching them to put their toys away properly will lead to them being more accountable for the higher priced items that will come with age, like bicycles, automobiles, electronics, etc. Start right from the beginning to teach them to care and be accountable for their personal property.
Whether they attend public school or are homeschooled, children need to be taught to follow through on assignments and to work to the very best of their ability. When their grades fail to live up to their abilities, they should be held accountable and they should come up with a plan of action to rectify it.
It is easy for all of us to waste time on things of no consequence. Here's where we need to be an example. When we are engaged with them, we need to set aside our phones, computers, and other devices and actually connect with them. Teach them that it is important to have some leisure time and have fun just being a kid, but it should not be the driving force of the majority of their time.
Every kid should have something to be responsible for. Whether it's taking out the trash or cleaning the bathrooms, they need to feel that they contribute to the family in some way. Keep a chart to remind them of their accountability.
Their spiritual growth
Giving our children a solid foundation of faith and then holding them accountable for maintaining and developing their own is one of the most important tools we can give to our children. Expect them to study scriptures, pray with the family, serve in your church or religious organization and in the community.
The family is the most important unit in the world and family loyalty and fidelity is paramount to them becoming responsible enough to have their own family one day. Teach them the importance of family and hold children accountable to their contributions to your family.
Accountability breeds successful and productive adults. Don't be afraid to use it in raising your children.
A parent basically has to muddle her way through the 18-plus-year adventure, rubbing her eyes from the sleep deprivation. When you approach a mother in the wild, go easy. And maybe avoid these observations or questions when talking to a mom of teens.