One of the things that my parents tried to teach me and I am now trying to teach my kids is accountability; the idea that there are consequences for your actions,  both positive and negative. My kids have said, “I wish I was a grown up so I could do whatever I want.” Unfortunately, I remind them that being a grown up does not afford the chance to do whatever you want.

Certainly, you can do what ever you want; the problem comes when you also have to deal with the consequences of your actions. This plays out in my kids’ lives just about every day. If my kids don’t share their toys with their friends, they can’t expect their friends to share with them. If one of my children hits the other one, they probably shouldn’t be surprised that the other one hits back. (Side note: Hitting is never OK, even for a toddler, and certainly not for an adult. This is the lesson we teach our children.) Our children still hit sometimes and when they do, there are consequences for their actions. We use timeouts mostly and it is always accompanied by a conversation about hitting and reconciling with their sibling.

My parents did a good job of letting me suffer consequences for my actions.

One of the most memorable consequences came my senior year of high school. I was a two-year starter on the baseball team and had received some awards for play, my team was heading into the final stretch of its season and we were trying to make the playoffs for the first time in a long time at my school. I also was in AP English; let’s just say I took my baseball more seriously than I took my class work. Our big project for the class was a research paper, I got a 37% on that paper in red pen it said, “This is the worst paper an AP student has ever turned in.” Needless to say, I failed that six-week period of my English class and at that time my high school had a “No Pass No Play” policy. If you got under 70% in any class you were ineligible for extra-curricular activities for the following six-week period. I got a 55% for that period, which meant that I had to miss the last 4 games of my senior year. We didn’t make the playoffs and I had to watch from the stands as one my best friends hit a walk off home run against our biggest rival in his last high school at bat. My actions had consequences and that experience taught me a lesson.

I want my kids to learn those lessons, both good and bad. I also want them to know that no matter what I still love them. No matter the actions I will be with them to help take the steps needed to deal with the consequences and learn the lesson.

The thing I am finding is my children are helping to remind me about accountability. They are watching and listening to how I treat people, how I respond to criticism and correction, how I deal with adversity, they are even watching how I parent them. Which means, sometimes they repeat the words that come out of my mouth, they repeat my tone, they repeat my actions. A lot of time I don’t like it. It’s like a mirror standing before me. If I want my kids to be respectful, compassionate, kind, and engaged with the community around them. I have to be, too. If I want them to be held accountable for their actions, I must also be willing to be held accountable. I must be willing to say, “I’m sorry” if I’m wrong. I might even need a timeout from time to time.

When we are accountable to our selves, our kids, our neighbors, and our community for what we say, how we act, how we treat each other, and the decisions we make, it allows us to hold each other together, correcting each other when we need correcting, all secure in the knowledge that we are in this together and only by helping each other see the good and the bad can we move forward.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Seeing my kids begin school fills my heart with pride. The start of King of the Hill Basketball.

Not Favorite: The willingness for people to say whatever they want, but the unwillingness to deal with the consequences of those words.

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