By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
June is the month we celebrate dads, and with that thought in mind, I congratulate all engaged and responsible dads! I cannot think of my dad without thinking of all the lessons he taught me. The biggest lesson was that of being responsible. His quips about the early bird getting the worm, and the importance of being responsible for your family and yourself are woven into my work ethic.
Teaching our children to be responsible is difficult if we aren’t responsible parents. There will always be helpers along the way, but allowing your children to face the consequences when they mess up can save them a lot of chaos in adult life. No matter where you work you will be surrounded with people blaming others for mishaps at work. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you take responsibility for your actions. If you miss the boat or can’t afford the toy you want, or have to go to summer school because you didn’t finish your homework, it’s no one’s responsibility but yours.
The great thing about responsibility is it is never too late to begin teaching your child. If you feel as though your children feel entitled and are spoiled, the month of June is a great month to set things straight. Below are few suggestions that can help.
• Assign chores and follow through with consequences if your child doesn’t do them. They don’t have to like doing them, or like you, but they do have to do them and respect you.
• Limit the social media, computer games, and phones. If your child spends two hours on the Internet, make sure he/she is spending three with the family. The virtual world is more influential if the family world is less engaged.
• This summer, insist your child get a job. Working for extra credit for a teacher or project is a wonderful summer job. So is working at a coffee shop or doing dishes at home. The job type isn’t as important as the concept of working for someone. Volunteer work is an excellent idea as well, but make sure your child is accountable for their hours there.
• Never do for your child what they can do for themselves. This is a golden rule. Kids who grow up with supportive parents who believe their children need to learn how to cope with defeat have an advantage over kids who grow up believing the world will cater to them because of the magnificent person they are.
When I see kids who have been enabled or entitled, I pity them. They will have a rude awakening when they find out the real world doesn’t care about who their parents were or where they live. You succeed when you are accountable for your actions and don’t make excuses for why you missed the deadline. The boat/car, bus or train leaves on its time, not yours. This is a wonderful lesson to teach your kids in June. Happy Father’s Day to all of my dads, and have a wonderful month of June!
– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.