“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
I have had to learn many lessons in my life the hard way. As I get older I grow wearier and wearier of the trouble I create for myself. I make better choices these days and I praise God for the woman he has allowed me to become despite myself. When you are a parent, you do not want to see your children making the same mistakes you did or have to witness them learning life lessons the hard way. However, I cannot be with my kids for every decision they make and I know what stubborn cloth they were cut from. So, what are my options as a parent? What can I do to ensure their safety and success in life? Well, first of all, I can take a dose of reality and let go of the magical thinking that says I have any control over their indefinite safety and success in life. I am setting myself up for a slap in the face if I think I can. It is unrealistic to think that our kids will escape this life unscathed, never face tragedy, financial hardship, relationship issues, health problems, or worse. Next, I recognize that prayer is my biggest weapon on their behalf. No matter what God’s answer, he loves my kids more than I am humanly capable and not only knows what is best for them but wants what is best for them. Besides prayer, I assess my own witness in their lives. What lessons am I teaching them?
One of the hardest things I have had to learn is accountability. In my opinion, it is one of the most important lessons in life. By the way, I am not concerned with perfection, just progress. Without accountability, the consequences of the bad decisions we make in our life are always someone else’s fault. It is a victim mentality and it is dangerous. If I do not teach my children accountability, then the world will.
One of my favorite sayings is: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I personally pair that with accountability. If we have not been taught or have refused to learn how to take responsibility for our choices, we can become stuck in a miserable place in life, never accepting that we can change.
Accountability has a bad reputation these days. I think false pride, entitlement, and narcissism have found their way into the water system. It has a weak connotation when we filter it through false pride. Accountability takes humility and a willingness to humble ourselves which we usually perceive as a weakness. Ironically, humility takes more strength and courage than pride.
One of my children recently became unglued when I confronted him with accountability. I was instantly met with a defensive stance. This rattles my cage to the core. I recognize the posture of this place in his heart. It is the same as mine when I face my own giants at times. When accountability becomes a teachable moment with my son, I brace myself mentally and emotionally because I know it is going to be an intense discussion. I know that he knows the truth of his matters, but before he owns the choices he has made that got him into his predicament we have to do combat.
The inspiration for this post is a recent incident over grades and upcoming finals. The emotionally charged conversation was about low grades in two of his classes. Most of his reasoning was sound and legitimate, BUT he was not owning his part in the situation. What it boiled down to was that the effort he needed to put in was greater than the effort he was willing to put in and he did not want to face himself. He was adamant that it was not going to be his fault if he failed these classes. As we whittled away at the excuses, he reluctantly accepted that he had not made these classes a priority and given either of them the attention they needed. That is a tough pill to swallow when you are facing unpleasant consequences because of the choices you have made. I know because I take the same medicine all too often. It is hard to be honest with ourselves but even harder when we are not and it is devastating to watch our children believe such a lie that leads to their destruction.
This may be a lesson he has to learn the hard way. We will find out after finals. One thing is for sure, he knows that I love him and that I believe in him. He knows that accountability is a strength; not a weakness and we both know that he is capable of great things.