Parental responsibility comes with accountability for our children’s behavior. If children’s behavior were to exactly model the behavior of adults, something would be wrong. A child is someone who is freshly coming out into the world. A child depends on an adult for direction in that world. Of course, there are some children who are armed with skills to navigate the world much sooner than their counterparts and who are sometimes forced into circumstances where they must take on adult responsibilities much sooner than we would anticipate, but they are the exception, not the rule.
When children become adults is a question with various responses depending on the culture to which the children belong. Regardless of the cultural background most people would agree that bringing children to this world is an action that comes with responsibilities. These responsibilities we must gladly assume just as we gladly engaged in the inter action to bring them into this world.
In this light how can we not agree that when children behave badly parents are more to blame than children? When a child steals, there is a parent or adult somewhere in the background. Suppose a child steals a candy bar from the store and is asked why he or she stole it and responds that it was because he or she saw their friends do it the other day. Who did these friends copy this from? Are they born thieves?
If we follow this pilfering chain from the ending to the beginning does it stop at a child or parent? This appears to be the hen and egg dilemma. There is a saying that if all parents taught their children how to behave, then it would be a smaller burden for those who do
their part. They would feel like they are making a difference in their children’s behavior. We can trace children’s behavior to adults. Of course adults can attempt to excuse themselves for their duty as managers of their children by saying they also learned to
misbehave from their own parents and leave us in the hen-egg circle!
We all want to be good parents and feel disappointed when children misbehave. Yet instead of admitting that we try, but fail sometimes, we push the blame elsewhere. It is when we pick up the pieces to see where we went wrong and start again that we can realize that we can make a difference. When we are on the defensive and refuse to take accountability, we only prolong the problem. We are all human beings, we all make mistakes. Understanding this allows us to forgive the mistakes we make and keeps us from pushing the blame unfairly onto our children.
When we each do our part – I raise my children and you raise yours and we both take responsibility we assumed when we became parents – then hopefully none of us has to raise another’s children. All parents who have fed children with a bottle, with a spoon or fork, or on their breast know that a parent must watch and monitor feeding until the baby is finished. If a parent is breastfeeding, they don’t stick a nipple in the baby’s mouth and turn away to stir a boiling pot. If using a feeding spoon, a parent doesn’t leave the spoon in the child’s mouth and turn them over to change their diaper. Until the baby no longer demands this type of attention, parents are bound to attend them as is necessary. The same applies to children. Their needs must be attended to by their parents until they are no longer children.
To blame a child misbehaving should not be the final solution to the problem. The parent must continue on to ask himself or herself: How have I participated in this? How can I make things better? Ultimately it will not matter that a parent is not taking the blame. A responsible parent is always going to look after his or her child’s welfare regardless of the state of the child.