When you experience a teenage boy, all of the good and all of the surly, sullen not so good remember the following. Your son at this age is part hormones, part finding his independence and part your influence. Yes, remember that many of the habits, actions and words are there because of the way that you raised him. (I assume that much is the same regarding female teenagers, I just do not have direct experience.)

So when I had the opportunity for another teaching/learning opportunity, I stood back to think about what I had and had not done in helping my son become a man. In the area of helping him learn to take responsibility I can give myself no more than a 5 on a 10 point scale. I have not been consistent enforcing rules, ensuring that chores get done or following through with consequences.

This is not to say that D has no sense of responsibility — that is not true. It is just not as developed as I would like. I have a highly if not overly developed sense of responsibility (which is a blog entry for another day).

This weekend he damaged my car. The fault was his alone. It was totally preventable. He woke me up to let me know about it and he was sincerely remorseful. Sometimes I think that he believes that is all that is needed. Being very angry that night I decided to wait until the next day to decide how to handle the situation.

 We did not see each other the next day until early evening. I asked him to meet me outside so we could survey the damage together. He explained again how it happened and I iterated that while I understood that it was not intentional, it was avoidable. Before I could say anything more he offered to pay $100 towards the repair. I thanked him for his offer knowing that was a material portion of his savings.

I had spent a good part of the day thinking about what to do. I decided that he needed to take full responsibility for the damage he caused. Yet I neither wanted him to begin to avoid all risks just to know that taking risks has consequences and that an adult learns to deal with the consequences of his actions.

I told him that he needed to fully pay for the repairs which I estimate will be at least several hundred dollars. To his credit he accepted my judgment though I was informed that it was a little “harsh”. We agreed on a plan that would combine cash payments and working off the remaining debt. He knows that I expect him to follow through on the chores even if it means giving up a night with his friends or a few hours of video games. He claims that he is committed.

You could feel the emotion in the air between us. He started to walk away but I motioned him to me and we hugged. I don’t get to do that as a matter of course any more. I told him that I loved him…and that was that.

I allowed myself a pat on the back for good parenting but only one. While I believe that I set a good example of how to deal with a serious issue with no yelling or anger, there is more to do. He needs to follow through on his responsibilities and so do I on mine. 

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

3 Responses to Responsibility

  1. Frank says:

    Wow, that’s a really good outcome. It’s important to remember as parents that we’re teaching life lessons. And being fully responsible is the way to do that. You should be proud of yourself…and so should he. It’s a transformative moment to know that you’re it…and it’s a maturing. Well done. Thanks for sharing that lesson.

  2. 48facets says:

    We really are teaching life lessons. At age 16 he already is fairly formed but I figure I have two years to make a few lasting impressions.

  3. Pingback: About Shared Responsibility » KnowHR Blog

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