With the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions, which are notoriously ill-fated. That gym membership that doesn’t see the light of day after January, the forgotten organizational tools in your kitchen drawer, or the online subscription to those important business journals you promise to read, are all signs of typical New Year’s resolutions. Personally, the only resolution that has ever worked for me was a resolution to start flossing. My dentist will tell you that I kept that one and it managed to stick!
After years of unrealized resolutions, I’ve decided to do what many of my friends do and choose a word of the year. I’m starting with the word Accountability. My goals for this year are built upon the ideas of being accountable to myself, my family and my community. I am challenging myself to find ways to ensure I’m living up to my promises, and not making excuses for my shortcomings or failures.
So far, I’m finding the accountability piece of parenthood to be the most difficult. Parenting is a labyrinth of self-doubt, unclear pathways and urges to pass the accountability burden. I’m referring to my own actions as they relate to discipline, structure and daily expectations of Isaac, but I’m also referring to the amount of accountability I’m willing to place on the shoulders of a 3 1/2 year old.
Creating a culture of accountability in your home is essential for the development of young minds and character, but I’m learning it is so incredibly difficult. The desire to want a happy, agreeable child is strong. Days are more fun when there isn’t conflict over cleaning up after breakfast, or push back on getting dressed. It seems so easy to give in and clean-up for him, or back up our departure time so he can play a little longer before getting ready.
I know my view from the preschool seats seem far off to many of our parents, but I also know that these types of conflicts evolve into homework disputes, arguments over who is responsible for walking the dog, and refusal to run family errands on the weekend once a teenager finally gets that coveted car. At Noble Academy we work hard at a gradual transfer of responsibility from teacher/parent to student as it relates to school work. We know our students need more guidance and support for work completion in their younger years. Using the planners, consistent parent communication and daily reminders is essential to building capacity for school work and deadline adherence. As our students get older, our goal is for the accountability for work completion to fall more clearly in the student’s world than with the teachers or the parents. This transfer of ownership happens gradually, but is essential to creating successful adults who can meet their own potential.
As a parent, I’m learning daily that creating accountability in a child feels like the tallest and most difficult mountain I have to scale. As an educator, I know that this accountability is essential for student success and requires a partnership between parents, teachers and administrators. If you feel like you are struggling with accountability in this way, I think there is a large club you can join! I imagine that most parents struggle to reconcile their feelings about accountability and maintaining a positive environment in their home. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the question of the best ways to build accountability, but I do think having the goal of accountability is the first step.