Teaching responsibility is in my opinion the most important job for all of us who are parents. I think it has always been the most important work required of us, but now it is even more critical.
And since our children learn more by watching than they do by listening to us, it is incumbent upon us to be outstanding responsibility examples. In this page we'll go over a few areas that really need to be addressed. They fit in nicely with our mission statement at books-empower.com.
We are staring right down the barrel of ever increasing numbers of diabetes and dementia related diseases. As you've read in other pages under the cardiovascular system button in the left margin, diabetes is the launching pad for many other circulatory conditions. Alzheimer's disease affects more than just the victims. The extended families feel the pain as well.
But we know that type 2 diabetes can be prevented. And evidence continues to come in to suggest that Alzheimer's disease may have common traits. This offers some hope that we can get a handle on that disease too.
The prevention for type 2 diabetes is an immediate change in lifestyle. Part of our teaching responsibility pattern must include showing our kids that processed food is not part of their future. We do that by not making it part of their present. Yes, it will take work. And some more time.
But they do as they see, not as they hear. If they see us putting good stuff in front of them at meal times, they will follow that path when they step out on their own. If they grow up on fast food in front of the television accompanied by a can of sugar-laced soda, they will accept that as normal.
And the numbers of diabetes cases and maybe dementia-related cases will continue to grow. As will their odds of facing the consequences of diet patterns that are proven failures.
This goes along with the last example about teaching responsibility regarding healthy eating choices. But it goes much further. It goes to the heart of instilling an inner drive in your children to be great. "Great" can mean many things, but in all of those things it always means making a difference. And leaving things better than we found them.
Stephen Covey would tell us to see that success in advance. Can you see an entire generation of people striving to be great and to leave things better than they found them?
Our task as parents in teaching responsibility for personal actions is to be that shining example. When we're wrong, own up to it. We don't pass the buck. We don't blame it on our lot in life. We don't blame it on corporate greed or co-worker laziness. We get it out there in front of us and fix it. Because our kids learn by what they see, not by what we tell them.
Financial responsibility needs to come from us as soon as our children can grasp the idea. We cannot allow them to fall into the bondage of an entitlement mentality that threatens the growth and prosperity of our nation. That welfare pattern has withheld the immense talents of countless citizens in America. Maybe one of those bright, scientific minds became trapped in a system that is held dear to the hearts of this two-party political behemoth bogging down our country.
Maybe that future scientist could have found that concrete link to solve the mystery of Alzheimer's disease. But as a young child he thought his only choice was to let the government take care of him. Since it was all he saw and since he learned by what he saw, rather than what he heard, he just assumed this was all there was for him.
And maybe we were all diminished
We must teach our children well to be responsible for their actions. We must inspire them to take their place in the group that casts aside the political back and forth that keeps career politicians parked in Washington D.C. and waves of potential problem solvers stuck in a rigged rat race with no exit door.
As we take on our role in teaching responsibility to our children, we need to show them that we are willing to get involved in the solution process. Because they will only learn from what they see as opposed to what they hear from us.
So we must speak as a concerned nation and demand that schools begin to teach financial literacy. We cannot keep turning out classes of students who have memorized facts but have no concept of how money actually works.
An excellent start can be found in the list of classic books in the left margin. "How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes" would give our students a clear advantage as they enter the post high school phase of their lives.
Our children must see us demand better nutrition in school lunch rooms. A large part of the health issues facing our nation and the world starts out with what is placed in front of young children everyday at mealtime. And as the patterns become habits, the belly fat grows at earlier and earlier ages. And the numbers of diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease go up.
The elected members of congress know this is true. But they lack the courage and will to take on the well-funded pesticide and processed food giants who are working together to protect their cash cows disguised as school lunchrooms.
They also lack the foresight to see the real problem with the potential for a wave of student loan defaults. It isn't about making loans easier to get or even about lowering the interest rates or forgiving the debt.
Show your son the example of teaching responsibility by demanding the elimination of degree programs loaded up with fringe classes completely irrelevant to the end result of that degree. All those extra years of required classes do is guarantee unending funds to universities, backed by taxpayer dollars.
Teaching responsibility takes courage. It takes a willingness to admit mistakes. We all make them. The difference is those who admit, correct, and move on, will rise up and do great things. We need to let our children know it is OK to fail. It doesn't define them unless they stay down.
It takes the willingness to learn new things, even for those of us "a little older." We waste as much skill and wisdom by not tapping into the experience of our elders as we do by not showing our children how to reach for something better.
* Greatness doesn't have to be finding that cure for cancer. It could be bringing up your kids to be respectful, responsible citizens.
* Greatness doesn't have to be leading the charge to break the lifelong chains of an entitlement generation. It could mean showing your daughter how to plan for her future and how to manage her finances.
* Greatness doesn't have to mean becoming a president or congress member who takes his duty to defend the constitution as a sacred vow and never forgets that they are there to serve America. It could be showing your son how to give back to his small community a portion of his skill and vision.
But it could turn out that you may show them how to acquire those talents to find that long sought cure, or to lead our citizens out of economic disadvantage by showing them how to help themselves.
And it it really could mean showing them that they could be that person who remembers he or she went to Washington D.C. to serve America. And then does it.
Our children learn by what they see, not by what we tell them.
Show them something to make them proud. That is the real definition of teaching responsibility.