Parents

Teach Your Kids This One Thing For Success

Teaching kids personal responsibility starts at home.
07/21/2017 08:33am ET | Updated November 4, 2017

Not knowing thing one about RVs, I have unilaterally decided our family should rent one for an upcoming trip. But where to even begin? Luckily, a dear RV-owner-friend recommended an RV-guy he thought could help. Great. A place to start.

So, I contacted the RV-guy. We had a good, long conversation about what kind of RV would be best for our family. He asked a lot of questions and we covered all the specifics — soup to nuts, stem to stern. By the time we hung up, I was excited to have this obviously knowledgeable guy helping us. He promised to send me pictures of RVs I might like. He promised to find us one within the month. Great squared.

And then...

Radio silence.

So I emailed. Three times. I texted once. I called and left a voicemail offering him the if-you-can’t-work-with-us-just-let-me-know out.

Weeks went by and… nothing.

So, my husband circled back to our RV-owner-friend. RV-owner-friend reached out to RV-guy who told our friend that even though I seemed like a nice person, I had no idea what I was looking for and was all over the map. He also told our RV-owner-friend that I was looking for something “way out of (my) budget.” This last tidbit was particularly funny/insulting, because we never really drilled down on budget. For good measure, he also threw in a woe-is-me-life-is-so busy. ’Cuz, you know, no one else has sh*t going on, too.

So, instead of, “Geez, I’m really sorry. I screwed up and time got away from me. I’ll contact her right away,” he blamed me. The client. The one who would have been paying him to do. his. job. And not one word about how he hadn’t replied to me in a month. Not one murmur of apology.

And this is utterly and completely unacceptable. Why? Because personal responsibility. In many ways, it makes the world go around. And blaming others for where you have failed is not only maddening, it’s downright childish.

The political climate has many in this country shaking their heads in disbelief. Disbelief that we’ve become a nation almost completely devoid of decorum — unable to listen respectfully, incapable of demonstrating the personal responsibility it takes to apologize when we’ve crossed lines. Insulting and swearing at others who don’t agree with us, taking jabs at a person’s looks, race, sexuality, or religion instead of addressing their viewpoints — these behaviors are now de riguer and it’s a sad, sad commentary on our beautiful country.

Teaching kids personal responsibility starts at home. There’s a meme floating around that outlines things kids need to hear from their parents. In addition to, “I love you” and “I’m proud of you,” perhaps the most important one is, “I’m sorry.” Because when you apologize to your child, when you admit wrongdoing, you’re teaching your kid to do the same.

I still apologize to my kids for times I let them down in the past. I also apologize to them in the day-to-day when I do or say something I shouldn’t. And I will continue to do that until I’m no longer able. I do that because, 1) I really am sorry, and, 2) I want them to hear what it sounds like for an adult to take adult responsibility.

Not long ago, an online scheduler I use for my business was experiencing major problems and things were getting screwed up in a big way. The president of the company sent out an email apologizing for the glitches. He wrote — and I’m paraphrasing — The buck stops here and I take full responsibility for the issues of the last few days. Please know I won’t stop working until all the problems are resolved.

In other words, this guy fell on his sword. He owned it all. And I forwarded that email to my kids as an example of what was the very and only right thing to do in the midst of the chaos. He didn’t blame his staff, or the complexities of the internet, or a coding error. He took ownership and promised to fix what was broken. I don’t love this online scheduler but I won’t switch to another because of that letter. Because that company is obviously run by a person of character.

Ask yourself who you want to be: The RV-guy? Or the online-scheduler-guy? Because the one you choose is also the choice you’re making for your kids. You can be the RV-guy and teach your kids to blame, shirk personal responsibility, whine, and point fingers. Or you can be the online-scheduler-guy and teach your kids to take full responsibility and make amends.

Up to you.

But it seems to me this country could use more online-scheduler-guys right about now. And, as parents, it’s on us to make that happen.