Accountability breeds responsibility – Stephen Covey
More and more lately, I see examples of the consequences of a lack of accountability in members of today’s society. I am reminded of “The Little Red Hen”, a story I learned as a child. In this classic folktale, the little red hen wants to make some bread and each step along the way she hopes to enlist the help of the other farm animals. When she asks the animals for help with planting the wheat and harvesting and milling the wheat, the answer from each of the animals is “Not I”. She tries again when it is time to knead the flour, mix the dough and bake the bread and is once again told “Not I” when she asks who will help her. After completing every step alone, she takes the mouth-watering bread from the oven only to see the other animals greedily eyeing the freshly baked bread. She asks who will help her to eat the bread and finally receives an affirmative answer from every one of the animals. At this point, she tells the lazy animals that because she completed every task alone, she and her chicks will eat the bread all alone as well.
Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short- and long-range goals. A man who is pressing forward to accomplish worthy goals can soon put despondency under his feet, and once a goal is accomplished, others can be set up. – Ezra Taft Benson
The ant and the grasshopper is another tale of the consequences of laziness and irresponsibility. The grasshopper sings and dances through the summer when food is plentiful while the ant steadily works to build a storehouse of food for the leaner months ahead. The grasshopper laughs at the diligent ants, but finds later on that the ants had the right idea when he is left to starve when winter comes.
I wonder if these stories are shared much anymore. I know I read them to my children when they were little and tried to lead them to the moral of the stories; that when a reward or goal is desired, effort must be put forth in order to achieve that goal. While my children certainly were not lacking for anything, including toys, I did not feel the need to provide them with every thing their hearts desired. I know that when we have to put forth effort in order to obtain something, we value it more than when it is just handed to us. Allowing our children to work for the items they desire assures that the items will be well cared for because a part of them went into obtaining these items.
An essential part of teaching children to be disciplined and responsible is to have them learn to work. – James E. Faust
When children are old enough, certainly by high school, a part-time job is an excellent way to teach them responsibility and accountability. Through working, children learn how long it takes to earn a dollar and are therefore less likely to spend that dollar on frivolous things. It is amazing how frugal a child can be once the money she spends on items comes from her own pocketbook. I am a strong supporter of holding children (and everyone else) accountable for their behavior and actions. Both of my boys held jobs during high school and at the present time, and my daughter will do the same when she is old enough. I firmly believe that the best gift we can give our children is our time and our knowledge. If they want the latest gadget or fashion, they will work until they have money to buy the coveted item. By being a “mean mom” and limiting the material gifts and money I give my kids, I hope that I am teaching them to value people and experiences more than things. I hope the legacy I leave my children is to have truly given them wings of responsibility and accountability to soar with rather than an open hand waiting for a handout.