Do you think it is still possible to raise responsible children in today’s society? It may not be easy, but I do think it is possible. In fact, I think it is crucial to raise our children to become responsible adults who can function in today’s world. Unfortunately, we live in a modern society where cheating, lying and infidelity are accepted as a part of life. There is a great need for men and women of integrity today. As christian parents who home school their children, thus spending more time with them than parents who don’t home school, I believe we have the advantage. But it isn’t just an advantage we have. We also have been commanded as Christians to “make disciples”. Paul said to fathers concerning their children “to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Family discipleship, according to scripture, is the parents responsibility, not to be handed off to someone else.
In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary the definition of responsible is “the state of being accountable or answerable”. In Robin Sampson’s book, What Your Child Needs to Know When, her definition is “Governed by reason; being under the influence of reason; thinking, speaking, or acting rationally or according to the dictates of reason.” So what does that mean in a nut shell? Basically, we teach our children to think before they act and then when they act it is in a way that honors and pleases God.
So why make this important? Romans 14:12 says “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” That includes us parents as well. It is really hard to teach my kids to be responsible when I’m not being responsible myself, whether it is with my time, speech, actions or responses to others. So, it begins with me, the parent and my actions will always speak much louder to my children than anything I ever say to them. They must know that I am responsible for my decisions & will be held accountable for them to God.
I also think it is important because as a family you work as a team, not a group of individuals. A sports team has a lot of individuals but unless they work together in a responsible manner they won’t be a very good team. You cannot do everything for everyone 100% of the time. As mothers we would like to think that we can. Delegation is important in the health of your family. Each person should be able and willing to do his share of the work for the benefit of the family. You are a team. Team members must play their position. You are counting on them to do their job. If one of my kids slacks up on one of their jobs it affects many others around them. This is where forming good strong habits become important to raising responsible children. Charlotte Mason said this:
“The mother who takes the pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time” and to watching” over those already formed.” -Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 page 136
Forming good strong habits is not easy & takes patience & time, but the blessings are long lasting. Like Charlotte Mason said we secure for ourselves smooth and easy days. We are still working on this in our house & will probably never fully arrive but my days are easier than they used to be. We established 3 areas of responsibilities in our house and then have worked slowly on each one.
The first area of responsibility is School. The children are responsible for their materials, book lessons and attitudes. If I give my older ones an assignment with a due date then it is their job to make sure it is ready on time. My kids each have a Rubbermaid tub in which to keep their school work in. If they lost their pencil or a workbook it is their responsibility to find it, not mine. This gets the burden off of me to try & keep up with their stuff. I don’t have time to do that anyway. Attitude is also a biggie. In our house their attitude speaks louder than their words & actions. If their attitude is wrong even though their school work is completed it doesn’t count for much. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
The next area of responsibility is Routine. Harry K. Wong says,
“The #1 problem in the classroom is not discipline. It is the lack of procedures and routines.” The First Days of School.
It may seem that the children are not obeying, but in reality it may because we have not given them proper guidelines or procedures for accomplishing a certain task. When I established more routine in our day my kids knew what to expect & what was expected of them. Sarah knows that she is responsible for feeding the cats in the morning & getting the baby dressed. It should happen every morning. This is her routine. Daily routines are very important in teaching responsibility to our kids.
The last area of responsibility is chores. Do you have a chore chart? Do you use it? It is a lot like your Bible. It doesn’t do any good until you read it & live it. I’ve had a very organized system for chores for years now, but it was only until the last 2 years did I really get diligent about putting it into action. I love chores for 2 reasons. First, they teach great work ethic and second it is less work for me to do. Those who are helping to make the mess are also cleaning up the mess. A great rule of thumb is to not do anything that your kids are capable of doing themselves. You might want to read that aloud to your kids if you haven’t already. ( Everyone has a very important job in our family even if it is just scooping the cats’ litter boxes. We have learned to depend on each other in this way & if anyone goofs off and gets lazy the others really let them have it. We made Colossians 3:23-24 our family motto verse. “And whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV)
If you are starting new habits of responsibility there are two “T’s” to remember. The first is Training your child in their new job. Make sure they know and understand what is expected of them. Spend 10 minutes a day actually doing the job with them so that they know exactly how you want it done. Don’t forget to give plenty of praise at their efforts and success. The second is Transferring the job to them once they know what is expected. Let them know that this is their responsibility now and you will not remind them of it. Be patient and full of grace and mercy during this process. Don’t set your expectations too high of frustration levels will be very high.
I have days when I think that some of my kids will never be responsible and then I catch them doing something really good. I think it even surprises them at times. Some of my children have seen the positive consequences that naturally come with being responsible. They enjoy the blessings that come to them. Being responsible seems to be contagious also. Younger siblings see the benefits and want the same. The positive habits they are forming are not only squeezing out the bad habits but their day is much more enjoyable. As a mom I often pray that my children will have the same desire as I do to bring honor and glory to God in all they do. I am blessed bountifully as my children grow and mature into responsible individuals. It is refreshing to my soul. Psalms 25:13 says, “Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.”
Raising responsible children doesn’t happen quickly, it is a long season of giving life and love to your child while instilling in them the desire for godliness. Be patient and let God guide you on your journey. And don’t forget to praise him for the privilege of raising his children to become warriors for him. I am so excited for our future and the leaders that are rising out of the home schooling homes today. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Prov. 31:25 (NIV) We are a blessed people!
Below are a few resources that you may find helpful.
How to Raise a Responsible Child by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo
Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande
The Young Peacemaker: Teaching kids to respond to conflict God’s Way by Corlette Sande
Let Us Highly Resolve: Preparing Families for the 21st Century by David and Shirley Quine
Habit Revisited by Mary Woodis (based on the “Habit” writings of Charlotte Mason)
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Romancing Your Child’s Heart by Monte Swan
Raising Kids Who Hunger For God by Phillips
For Instructions in Righteousness, Polished Cornerstones, and Plants Grown Up, by Doorposts
Doorposts very inexpensive posters: Stewardship Street, The Blessing Chart, If-Then Chart, The Brother Offended Checklist by the Forsters of Doorposts http://www.doorposts.net/
© Copyright 2005, Dana Bailey, All Rights Reserved