I had no idea what I was getting into when I first became a parent. I knew all about the sleepless nights, and the responsibility to clothe, feed, and discipline my child. Fifteen years ago when I held my infant son in my arms I knew that it was going to be my responsibility to prepare him to be respectful, productive member of society. But I had no idea just how many other life skills I would have to teach him. One of the big check marks on my parental â€œtodoâ€ list is teaching responsibility.
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Responsibility was the topic this weekend.
Over the last week, the weatherman has been warning of a potential snowstorm hitting the Midwest early this week. As the weekend approached, the probability of this storm climbed, prompting my wife and I to finish up several outdoor tasks that needed to be done before a blanket of snow covered our yard. On tap Saturday morning was the final mowing of the lawn. Normally, I mow the front yard and go around the perimeter of the rest of the lawn before handing the mower off to my son.
When I told my son that I would be ready for him in about twenty minutes, our conversation went something like this:
â€œIsn’t it cold outside?â€ said my son.
â€œIt’s in the low 40’s,â€ I replied.
â€œDo I have to?â€ he asked.
â€œYou said you would mow part of the lawn each time to earn extra money,â€ I stated
â€œCan I not do it, and just not get paid?â€ he asked.
I just looked at him dumbfounded, muttered, â€œfine,â€ and shut his bedroom door.
I stewed about our exchange for the rest of the day. We had talked about this in Spring as a way for him to earn money. As a typical teenager, he’s got a long list of thing he’d like to buy. I had provided a way for him to earn money, and had gained some very valuable help in the process. I had let him out of doing the work using the logic that he would learn a financial lesson of losing the income because he wasn’t willing to put in the work. But the more I thought about it, I wish I had chosen a different path.
I really wish I would have given him a lesson in responsibility and commitment. He didn’t want to mow because it was cold. It’s important to me that he learn that if you commit to doing something, you do it, even if it’s a little inconvenient or uncomfortable.
I had taken the easy way out. I chose to avoid a confrontation with my son, and let him off the hook simply because he didn’t want to. That’s not the kind of message I wanted to send to my son.
I’m tucking this experience away. With the next opportunity not only will I choose a different parenting path, but I will revisit this experience and reinforce to him that I made the wrong choice. I will emphasize that he should have had to mow the lawn. It’s about honoring your commitment, and sticking to your word.
Sometimes your word is your most valuable possession.
Have you ever taken the easy way out as a parent? Did you ever revisit the decision with your child?
Brought to you courtesy of Brock