What does the word “responsibility” seem to you? Something like an obligation, a duty or may be a burden. Mostly, sometimes or always? Well, word responsibility is a frequent and at times central part of discussions, decisions and our life as a whole. There are responsibility charters we can see. Every role we play in life comes with a list of expectation – termed in one word as ‘Responsibility’. There are responsibilities of parent, spouse, citizen, employee and all other roles.
Now, as such there is no harm with that and these points keep life sane, organized. Otherwise we know the evolution of human race and the underlying genes can come in play anytime. So regulating the human mind with set of guidelines is a wise decision. On one hand the responsibilities of every role are debate point. However, more interesting part is our readiness to being responsible. We all agree that to do some task, learning or may be training for it is required. But when it comes to being responsible, we are told to start it whenever people feel we should. Once a child reaches late teens; he hears the demand to “become responsible” recursively. Now, this is ridiculous. First 15-16 years of life the child is asked to follow and then suddenly he is asked to take the charge. But how?
Going back to the word ‘responsibility’; let us try to understand it a little bit more
Responsibility: Response + Ability
Something like ability to respond to a situation or task in hand. Ability is not something we are always born with, it can be learned also. So we need time and opportunity to learn it. But we are directly asked to execute.
Problem starts when we fail, and as we fail we start hating it. We become responsibility aversive. We think, hear and assume that “It takes something extra for being responsible and lead”. We choose to move back, shy away when opportunity strikes to take charge. We start finding ways to escape rather than choose being responsible. Our focus shifts from delivering best to pointing fingers.
Our education system, parenting focuses on training the child technically. Psychology, soft skills are left to genetic coding or the “life lessons”. Strange; we spend our resources and time to build something and ignore the base itself.
The sense of being responsible should start as early as 6-7 years. In schools, in homes; the kids must get the opportunity to become responsible. We must see that habits are built that lead them to take responsibility. They should get the opportunity to decide and live their decision. Small changes like
• Decide for menu of Sunday breakfast.
• Let them choose from X and Y option when shopping; make them aware of constraints on budget and other details. But ask them to make a choice.
• In schools make sure each one plays a role that demands them to decide and being responsible.
They will falter, you will have to work extra on correcting the situation but they will be better prepared for later. Be there to guide them, help them with cons and pros lists while deciding but the final call should be theirs.
This will ensure that the child understand few things for sure
• Decision making and difficulties with it
• They learn how to own their decisions and how to live them
In Dale Carnegie’s list of 7 habits “responsibility” is mentioned as one of the character traits that comes out of first 3 habits. This block of habits is called the “Independence” block. This is the part of base building and it is better that it starts earliest in life.
If we want our teens, our youth to be responsible, we need to teach our pre-teen the sense of responsibility. And do it through practice, not like “Watch mumma and learn”. No one learns serious stuff through watching.
Another advantage of building responsibility centric habits early in life is that many other things follow up. Like respect for resources in life, serenity and calmness. I will end this with the below deep words from Wendell Phillips