I was recently having a conversation with two of my co-workers about personal accountability and how we foster that in children. It all started because my co-workers three year old asked him for something and my co-worker said he would do it later, adding just as his little son went to walk away, “Make sure you hold me accountable.” We all chuckled because it seemed like such an odd thing to say to a three year old but my co-worker said he wanted to start early.
Driving home that day I started thinking about how personal accountability was fostered in me as a child. What immediately came to mind were the times I would say I couldn’t do something because “so and so” prevented me or it was hard for me to learn something because “so and so” didn’t make it easy and my mother would simply ask, “The ball took a bad hop?” I’m sure dear reader you’re probably wondering what the hell does that have to do with personal accountability, well let me explain.
My mother would quote this commercial endlessly when I was a child. As it was in circulation a good decade before I was born I only have her and some of my cousins recollection of how it went. I believe it may have been a cereal commercial but the premise was there was a little boy that complained about how everything prevented him from playing baseball well. His line was, “The ball took a bad hop, the sun was in my eyes, and this glove is too big. I tripped over that rock, stupid rock.”
The line was always delivered in this whiny sing song manner that implied that the speaker was incapable of seeing their part in what went wrong. No personal accountability. It was an affective tool for me as a child and even into my adult years. Until I realized sometimes the ball really does take a bad hop and the fucking sun is in my eyes, these damn gloves are way too big for me, and that stupid rock was in my way. Personal accountability can only go so far when life is determined to get in your way.
Which brings me to the crux of this narrative. How do you teach someone they have to be responsible for their actions knowing there will be times when somethings are just out of their control?
It’s a good thing I only have cats;)