Friday, July 18, 2008

Smart Mama presents: Accountability

As part of a series on our family values, I will highlight each of the 9 values we have chosen for our family. I'll share my thoughts on the value and why I chose it.
Motto: We make wise choices knowing every choice has a consequence.
Scripture: ...They have become free forever, knowing good from evil, to act for themselves and not to be acted upon. 2 Nephi 2:26
I chose this value because one of the things I want my children to understand that life is a long string of choices and you will always reap what you sow. I always remember a line from a song in the musical, My Turn on Earth that says "when you choose the very first step on the road you also chose the last". That phrase has always stuck with me. This is a critical concept. When you make a choice you ultimately chose a consequence (outcome). Those consequences are not just situational, but emotional as well.

In a young child's world, this is critical for creating a sense of order and boundaries and helping children gain control of their emotions. If you chose to disobey a rule, there will be a consequence. Being happy and "free" comes from making good choices. Being sad, being restricted in the things you can do comes from making choices that hurt yourself and others and cause them to lose trust in you. This was the foundation for my classroom management strategy when I was a first grade teacher. When my students felt sad or upset by something that happened we'd go back and talk baout what led them to that point. I make clear the rules and expectations and carefully make your choice based on the outcome you would like. Its basically destination thinking. When do you want to end up? Then get on the road going there!

Parenting is a process of letting go, as our children grow up we give them more and more freedom to prepare them for the adult world. We have to really help them develop this sense of moral agency because it will ultimately be their guide. Children need opportunities to make choices and feel some pangs of regret. Children also need to make choices and realize the great outcomes that came from those choices. This is how children develop true confidence and realize they can trust themselves (critical to self concept). As my children grow up, I want them to understand that the they make choices in school will directly affect their career opportunities. The friends you hang out with will ultimately determine who they spend their time with, who they marry, the things they are involved in. If you chose to involve yourself in things that are destructive, risky, illegal, immoral, the unfortunate consequences of those choices will also follow (addiction, criminal records, unwanted pregnancies). Or simply put dumb choices bring sad consequences. Life has enough bumps along the way no need to add more! Likewise very deliberate good actions will bring good consequences.
One of the key words in the motto is wise choices. I want my children to stop and think about their choices. Weigh the options, identify good and bad, make your choice carefully and thoughtfully. In our world today there are so many messages and influences on our children. In our world of blaming others, "it's all their fault", absolving oursleves of responsiblities, and our overly therapeutic culture, teaching accountability goes against the cultural grain. However, I want them to understand that they are active agents controlling their destiny, their opportunities, and their happiness.
I teach accountability in the context of morality as defined as "what helps or harms others" we make choices everyday that help or hurt others. I believe we are responsible for the the impact we have on the lives of others.

key words (smartmama parenting vocab tags): accountability, choices, lose, gain, opportunites, consequence, be wise, freedom, options, what will happen if you do that?, how will you feel if you do that?, if...then
1. my kids enjoying creatures (thanks cj)
2. breakfast dinner
3. willpower


Suzie Soda said...

So cool this idea. This should be an enrichment class. You are brillant. suz xoxox

Tamlynn said...

Can I just send my kids to you for the next 10 years? Please?

LL said...

you're not only SMART, you're beautiful. That's such a great picture of you.
I'm with the other commenter, will you please raise my're wonder woman!!!

Chel said...

Very cool. I may just copy you-- your idea, not your words! :)

smart mama said...

okay you guys- i am not that brilliant...

and chel all good ideas are for sharing!

sweetpea said...

ditto all the rest---this really makes me excited to finally get mine up!

Andrea said...

you are THAT brilliant. I love the idea...and I can't wait to see what else you have.

bluestocking mama said...

we're working on ours right now too--i'm eager to see what else is on your list.