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The Lightness Of Responsibility - Grasshopper

Are you a bragging parent or grandparent? Me too. Bring out the pictures and the stories and glow in their cuteness and achievements. Just one caution . . .

Hold off praise of your parenting skills until they are adults.

 

I think this is more about accepting responsibility than it is about parenting. You can’t have the world’s most perfect child and then accept no part in their failings as an adult. You contributed in some measure to where they are now.

 

Yes, the lion’s share is on them, but you can’t pretend aliens captured them when they behave badly as grown-ups.

 

This message isn’t intended to induce guilt or to improve parenting skills – far from it.

 

This is to get you to recognize you did the best you could do with the level of awareness you had back then and to accept responsibility for your part. Everyone does the best they can do in accordance with their present level of awareness. If you berate someone, that’s the best you could do with the level of awareness you had at the time of your outburst. You will always have to pay the consequences for your actions but don’t dare irresponsibly say, “If I had to do it all over again, I would do it differently.” That’s revisionist history and an illusion. You did what you did and there are no “do overs.” The closest you can come is an apology.

 

When a relationship breaks down, ask any counselor about their session with the couple. The finger pointing will go only one way – towards the other.

 

We seem to only want to accept responsibility for the good, never the bad. We had a part in both.

 

Sidebar: Here’s one telltale clue of someone who refuses to accept responsibility for anything they do; perhaps it’s you. They may gloat about their “wonderful friends” but are quick to point out their friends’ shortcomings whenever they’re not around.

 

Asking, “What did I do?” removes the old schoolyard ditty from the equation: “I’m rubber, you’re glue. What you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

 

This is not a recommendation to wear sackcloth for your actions; it’s more about connection – connecting you to responsibility for the events both noble and nasty that you played a part in, and feeling the relief that delivers. It’s like dropping a 50-pound backpack.

 

Want to feel lighter? Make “irresponsible” just a word in the dictionary.

 

All the best,
John



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