Advocate vs. Accountability

How do you find the balance? In the parenting world. Between advocating for your child, and holding them accountable?

This thought has been on my mind for some time now.

I believe, as parents, one of the largest responsibilities we hold is to be our child’s biggest advocate. Let’s face it, if your parents are not willing to step up for you, to go to bat on your behalf, then who will?

I also believe, as parents, one of the other largest responsibilities we hold is on the flip side of the coin. For me, it is the accountability piece.

We all know them. Children who are not held accountable for their thoughts, their decisions, their actions. Children who run their households. Who attempt to run the classroom. The very same children who bully their classmates; as who is going to tell them that what they are doing is wrong? These children are not held accountable.

You may know the child I describe. It may be a neighbor child. A grandchild. A child on your sports team. Perhaps the child belongs to your best friend and, as a result, your friendship has suffered. Or, you may recognize the child I describe because it is your very own. It’s okay. Go ahead and admit it. Over the course of your busy day, your busy life, you haven’t been teaching your child to be responsible for what they think, say, and do. If this is you, it’s time to start. Children need to be held accountable. I even dare say they want to be.

My children know that I will always be there for them. That I will support them. Stand up for them. Believe them and believe in them. Know what else my children know…I will be the very first person to hold them responsible.

It is a delicate balance. Advocating while also setting expectations. My son, Coco, when he was in 3rd grade he got into trouble from a teacher other than his own. A very lengthy story could be told about what happened. Shock! I am not going to share it. I who loves to tell stories. Rather, this is what I really wish for you to know…

I advocated for Coco. I let the teacher know, in no uncertain terms, that I thought she was wrong. Out of line. That she had overstepped the bounds. Coco knew I did not agree with this teacher. He also knew something else.

Coco knew, regardless of what I thought of that teacher, that he was accountable for his choices and the events that transpired. He also knew that he would show this teacher respect. Because she is a teacher. Because she is his elder. Coco was told that despite whether I agreed with the teacher, or not, that he would apologize to her. His response, “I already did.” He was also made to write her an apology letter. Which he also did.

Coco tells me when he gave the teacher his letter that she looked very surprised. You see, too many of us we don’t hold our children accountable. That teacher never expected Coco to take responsibility. Especially after I supported him and told her how wrong she was.

If I hadn’t made Coco answer for his behavior what lesson did I teach him? Wouldn’t I have taught him that he can do whatever he wants? That it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks? Maybe I would have set the precedence that teachers don’t matter.

Parents, I urge you…teach your children to be accountable. Allow them to be responsible. Encourage them to answer for their choices.

Your child wants you to step up to the plate on their behalf? To know that you are always in their corner, ready to step forward, if needed, and be on their side? Then teach them that they have to be willing to step up to that same plate on their own behalf. Teach your child that so much of life is about character, integrity, and doing what is right. Even when it is difficult. Let your child learn that in order for you to be at that plate that they too have to be there also. Answering for, and being liable for, their thoughts, decisions and actions.

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