We end up with all kinds of cats at our place. Because we are quite close to town and not too far off the main road, you see, so sometimes a bunch of kittens will just arrive. It always makes me sad. Unwanted babies, you know. Β And the whole shirking your responsibilities by passing the problem on to someone else thing. I get annoyed.

I’ve been thinking about this thing, responsibility. What is it? Can it be taught? How do I raise responsible kids?

Responsibility. It’s linked to words like accountability, duty, obligation, and even burden. These are not the fun or exciting parenting words that I read on crunchy parenting websites today.

Recently my oldest son has had a string of interesting experiences. His car died. He borrowed and lost my expensive camera. And he started his final year of homeschool high school.

I’m thinking responsibility is one of things the boy is supposed to be learning at this season of his life.

He had to deal with the car. I helped him arrange to have it towed to the garage in town. He followed up on it, and learned that the fix would be expensive and might not solve the problem. He sought advice from our wonderful car doctor, who helped him find a buyer for the vehicle. The car is sold.

He had to deal with the camera. I was tempted to let him off the hook. It wasn’t his fault it got stolen, etc. But (joy!) he wanted to make it right. He payed for it out of his hard-earned weed-pulling-in-the-dead-heat-of-summer money. And he did it with a great attitude.

He has to deal with the future. We’re discussing it already. We’re dreaming and sharing ideas and googling things like crazy. It’s exciting and challenging. And it will take planning and cash and decision-making.

I’m biased, of course. I love this boy. And the truth is, he’s the oldest and being responsible is often one of those oldest child traits. So along with responsibility, I hope he’s also learning to love others and trust God and have fun and take a chance now and then.

But when it really matters, I hope he’ll remember his responsibilities.

Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, and obligation; every possession, a duty.

John D. Rockefeller Jr.

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