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Responsibility and Children  -  Two  

This month we continue the discussion of responsibility in children.  I find that most parents I work with really want to see their children in the best possible light.  This is a good thing overall, but it can blind parents to things that would better be looked at.  This blinding leads to a shirking of parental responsibility in helping their children develop appropriate levels of responsibility. 

What am I talking about?  It is not a terribly uncommon situation for me to get a call from a parent of a child or adolescent who wants help in dealing with an attention problem or a child who is struggling with depression.  We start our first meeting talking about the attention or depression but in these situations I usually find the child in question doesn’t want to be here and doesn’t agree with the parental view.  It is only late in the session, or even a few sessions on, when I learn the child is vandalizing the neighborhood, being verbally abusive to their parents, or bullying other kids at school. 

The parent has been so invested in seeing their child as “good” that they came up with an explanation for the behavior that excuses the child from their behavior.  Now, I may get thrown out of the psychology guild for what I am going to say next, but say it I will.  Even a legitimate psychological disorder isn’t an excuse for behavior.  There may be exceptions, but they are very, very rare and don’t apply to this situation. 

Holding children responsible will make them better, not worse.

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