How Do I Teach ‘Responsibility’?

A wise (Spider) man once said ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and he wasn’t wrong. Responsibility is something that we just can’t shy away from…no matter how much we may want to. At 34, I already long for the days when I could be ‘Mothered’ but truth is, I’ve hit an age where I need to be the responsible adult.

Responsibility is a huge concept though, am I right? Going for the trusty analogy of an onion here – there’s layers upon layers of ‘responsibility’ that we need to peel back – and let the self indulgent tears roll as we do what needs to be done. There’s personal responsibility, social, moral, collective, financial and professional responsibility (just to name a few).

Now, putting it into action, I feel like I’m half way there. I don’t litter, I pay my bills on time, I apologise when I’m in the wrong and I try to do the morally good thing where ever and whenever I can! Being responsible seems to be something I just accepted as I matured…but in light of recent events, I do wonder how much of that was ingrained in me from such a young age? My parents, for example, where always responsible!

So it has dawned on me…I need to teach it as much as I preach it!

After all, ensuring my children blossom into fully responsible adults has got to be my responsibility – mine, the other adults who surround them and society – I hope.

It feels harder than I first thought.

Initially, I believed that the best method was simply just to model it. If my children saw me acting responsibly, they’d pick up on the habits and know to start acting that way too?

So why am I struggling?

I still agree that modelling is vital but I have to admit, I was a little naive to believe it was that straightforward.

I can tell my children to apologise when they’re wrong, I can explain the reasons why they have been told off. I can try to show them that their actions have consequences (and I’m not just taking about confiscating the Nintendo Switch – I’m talking about the consequences on others) but what does it matter if the world we live in contradicts me at every chance?

My children have an excuse for everything and I cannot abide it! I refuse to live in a world where excuses are at the ready. My son made my Daughter cry the other day, he pointed at her scar (she’s the proud owner of a stitched-up heart) and said it was ugly. His excuse? His friend had made him fall over in a game of ‘tig’ and since he was now ugly, it was alright to call my Daughter the same.

No! I’m not tolerating it. My children are the most beautiful living beings on earth (how dare they use the word ‘ugly’ so frivolously) but if my own shortdoing is to blame for their lack of understanding – I’ll be accepting full responsibility for it.

This brings me to my next point – I was so shocked and appalled to hear my son be so cruel. I thought I had taught him better than than! But it seems society isn’t backing me on this one! These days, we are too loose with our lips, too quick to judge and far too superficial to appreciate the depth of someone!

Like everyone this week, I’m truly moved by the passing of Caroline Flack. The sheer fact she felt the need to end her life because of the cruelty of others has hurt me to the core. Where were we teaching responsibility to others when we commented/judged/believed what the Media was stating?

I live in fear that my children will grow up only knowing their worth and value in Instagram likes or shares. I live in fear that they will be faced with heartache and suffering at the end of a Smartphone. I live in fear that they will choose to act cowardly or maliciously, inflicting the same scrolling pain on some vulnerable person.

I live in fear that I will fail in my responsibilities and not teach my children to be kind and loving, to act honourably and with integrity.

So how do I do it? How do I ensure they blossom into the fully responsible adults I talked about at the start?

Please, advise me the best you can!