Hard Questions and Hard Answers
"If we do not adequately discipline our children,
society will discipline them in a way we may not like"
David O. McKay
We discipline our children because we love them and want them to succeed. Wise discipline reinforces the dimensions of eternal love. This reinforcement brings greater security into their lives.
We do our family members a terrible disservice when we do not hold them accountable for their own behavior.
Or when things don't go the way they would like and we try to make things better. In fact we are taking from our loved one the opportunity to grow from their adversity.
THE HARD QUESTIONS
Perhaps we should ask ourselves a few questions when we consider withholding accountability
Why am I doing this?
Am I doing it for my loved one or am I doing it for me?
Am I doing it to save my pride, image or reputation? Or the family's?
Am I doing it because it is the easy way out, rather than confronting them with their behavior and its consequences?
What good am I doing for them?
What harm am I ultimately doing to them?
What should I be doing in this situation?
Whose fault is it that they are in this situation?
Who is responsible for getting them out of it?
What harm is it doing to you to be in this situation?
What is it doing to or for your relationship with them?
What are we teaching them about agency when we try to ease or remove their accountability?
And ask yourself this question,
"Who is going to help them when I am no longer able to, and they haven't learned to do it for themselves?"
When will they learn to grow? If we enable them now, when will they learn to be accountable for their choices? When will it be too late for them to learn?
The VERY BEST HELP you can give your loved one is:
let them be responsible for their actions ---let them be accountable.
- We must let our loved one learn to be accountable by letting them be accountable.
- We stifle them, we inhibit their growth when we try to ease them through the tough times they have created for themselves.
- We cripple them by trying to or by removing the results of their actions.
Ordinarily, positive change will not occur until parents allow their children to experience the consequences of bad decisions.
The following is an excerpt from an Ensign magazine article. The young man's name was changed.
Who are we helping when we enable, remove the accountability, of our loved ones?
How is it a help?
How are we harming them?
Are we really doing it for ourselves?
What is the good we may do by constantly helping?
What is the harm?
Actions and inaction(s) really do affect others
When there is an addict or an alcoholic in your family you definitely know there is an effect. When there is a law breaker in the family you know you are affected. When a child, teenager or adult in the home chooses to be disobedient you know there is an effect on those around.
But if there is not an immediate, personal effect, is there no accountability?
Another problem with having an addicted loved one in the home is the damaging creation of a "wedge." Whether done purposely (which is often the case) or inadvertently by the addict, their behavior often causes parents to become at odds on the best way to help their child. One may want to offer as much help as possible while the other may want to take a "hard line."Contention often is the outcome, driving the couple apart.
THE HARD ANSWERS
It needs to be understood that I am not saying you shouldn't be helping your children and one another with legitimate needs. Obviously not. That is always appropriate. I am talking about enabling in harmful, habitual decisions.
It is when they are misbehaving they need to be disciplined. They need to be held responsible for their actions/behavior.
The value of the word NO!
What is wrong with NO? We, our society, went through a time when parents didn't want to say the "N" word to their children. I never did figure that one out. I wonder if we are experiencing the fallout from that misguided time period. Many of us indulge ourselves regardless of our ability to meet the consequences and then indulge our children. And then we or they don't know how to face the results of the decisions that were made.
The value of consequences.
Until they come to understand that there really are consequences for actions they will continue to choose to do wrong or make wrong decisions.
Good Choices = Good Results
Bad Choices = Bad Results
The Scriptures teach us about agency and accountability: When the Children of Israel proved to the Lord that they were going to continue to make stupid decisions he was done with them. They were on their own to face the consequences.
I think there is a parallel here. I think we would be terribly remiss to "carry" our children once they have shown they won't get it together until we make (or try to make) them get it together.
We are not our children's friend, we are their parent. We must be a friendly authoritarian. While we need to be accessible, lovable, merciful and fair, we must be the authority. The friendship part comes later.
Sometimes, even when it is not their fault they need to fix it, and work it out for themselves. To get through the adversity, to grow from the experience. We deprive them when we fix it for them.
Adversity is a necessity. We must not try to take that away from our family.
No one will learn if we don't let them. What lesson are we teaching when we take away our loved one's accountability?
We do not have the power to redeem our children from their poor choices.
People want to make choices and then they also want to choose the consequences, that is human nature.
We do a terrible disservice to our children, both young and old, when we take from them their accountability, the consequences of their actions.
When we remove any part of agency, including accountability, we are endorsing Satan's plan of taking from us our agency.
Addiction, no matter what kind of addiction, is no respecter of persons, nor respecter of position in a family. I will address that, and our efforts with our son, next Wednesday.