Many years ago some friends told me about their bottom line for raising kids, the Three Rs. I was reminded of that yesterday and it’s worth passing along. By teaching our kids these three practices, the other fundamental characteristics seem to fall in place around them. What’s nice about it is that basically, these three principles contain values that we can apply to our own lives at any stage for self-improvement, more peaceful living, and to be better friends, mates, parents—all around better people.
The first of the Three Rs is Responsibility. Taking Responsibility for one’s own actions and words eliminates a whole lot of problems. Training our kids to “own” what they do, say, or fail to do and say, is the first profound step in raising radical children who will stand out among their peers as exemplary individuals. There’s been an epidemic in recent times to “pass the buck” or do anything to get away from being held responsible or from catching blame. Taking responsibility doesn’t always feel good, but doing so doesn’t always end up as terrible as we anticipate it might be when we’re battling against facing the truth of our failures. We can spend so much energy covering up, justifying to ourselves or others, or creating another perspective to take the heat off of us. Sometimes looking it squarely in the face and owning it is the best, fastest way to resolve the issue. And if owning it doesn’t solve the problem, it does at least accomplish the foundational principle: we’ve taken responsibility. It’s the right thing to do. The sooner our kids (and we) learn how to do this, the sooner they (and we) will be on their (and our) way to being little people (or big people) with greater character.
Molly gave me a great illustration of taking responsibility (accepting the consequences) for her behavior when the kids were about three. She was angry at Pierce for something while they were playing. She got that look on her face of “I am taking you down, Brother.” She hitched back her elbows for momentum, took off at warp speed, and charged him. Once he was down, she stomped over to a small chair, hauled it over to the “time out” corner, banged it down and sat herself right in it. With a deep huff, she crossed her arms and began her self-imposed time out. She’d accepted the consequences. Okay, so clearly we were early in these lessons and the next aspect, Respect, wasn’t functionally instilled yet. But the practice was beginning. Every day is a new chance.
Next Mommy Mumday I’ll write about the next principle, Respect.
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