How do you teach responsibility??


We are lucky enough to rent a lake cabin for the whole summer and we go pretty much every weekend, including this one. Most of the time, I do the packing, because then we usually get everything we need to the lake, let’s be honest. However, this time I did not pack and gave that responsibility to the girls.  I ask the girls before we leave and they assured me they have everything we need.  We get to the lake and as I am unpacking all of our items and trying to get them put away so we can have some space for all of us in our very tiny cabin, I noticed Hailey did not have a swimsuit…….at the lake…….are you kidding me???

Now, my oldest is a very smart, spunky kid who is usually very responsible. I trust her to watch her siblings, do chores, ride the bus, go with friends, etc.  I would even trust her to babysit other people’s kids.  So I ask her if she has packed a swimsuit and she gives me the look of oh……shoot……..

Now I am left with three options:

Option 1: I could drive to the nearest town, which is 20 miles away from the lake and buy her a new swimsuit.  I was not a huge fan of this option because she would get a new swimsuit out of the deal and I would spend money on something she doesn’t actually need since she has so many swimsuits at home.  And as far as learning from our mistakes, I was thinking all I would teach her is if she forgets something, then she just gets a new one.  Hmmmmm……I could forget stuff too, if it meant I would get new stuff every time.

Option 2: I could drive all the way home and get her one of the swimsuits she already owns.  One “problem” with our lake cabin and I am not complaining here, is that it is close enough to drive home, especially when the nearest town is already 20 miles away, we are already halfway home.  It would not be like driving for three hours to get a swimsuit, I would have just said no to that.

Option 3: I could let her watch everyone else swim all weekend and not let her go swimming because she forgot to pack her swimsuit.  Now, if we were staying somewhere for one night and she did this, I would have totally gone with option number 3.  But
we were staying at the lake for three days and it was supposed to be 80 degrees every day and sunny.  While I was irritated that she forgot her swimsuit, I just could not punish her that much for making a tiny mistake.

So we went with option number 2 and drove home to get her swimsuit.  Was it ideal?  No, but other than gas money, it did not cost me anything, just the time and the fact that I had just left home an hour ago. But the drive was not that bad.  As we were driving we talked about thinking through in our head, what we would need to bring if we were going to the lake for the weekend.  A swimsuit is one of many pretty important things. Hopefully, she learned something from the experience.

But the million-dollar question is how do you teach responsibility? I tried thinking of a time in my childhood where I forgot something really important, but I could not come up with anything. And I am pretty sure it is not because I was a perfect child, right Mom? I am guessing it is just that my memory purged that one long ago and hopefully I have learned how to be responsible at this point. However, since Hailey is a 12-year-old preteen on the verge of so many new things, I am guessing this is not the last time we will talk about responsibility?  So do you teach it best by letting kids make mistakes and having conversations about it?  Do you go to the max and give ultimate consequences, but does that method actually teach anything to the kiddos?

CHALLENGE TIME!!! What do you think?  Did I do the right thing? What would you have done; option 1, 2, or 3? What tips do you have about teaching responsibility to someone on the verge of having a teenager?  Share your thoughts here or on the
Facebook page, Speaking Jelinese.  I would love any tips from those who have traveled to the dark side of teenagerdom and come out on the other side in one piece. Ha!!!

Talk to you later,

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