Teaching our children to take responsibility for their actions, NOW.

I saw him in the car line. His usually bright smile was solemn, and his eyes red with tears. My Mothers heart wanted to slam the van into park and run in front of the line to embrace him. Our eyes met and he looked down towards his shoes. If I was within arms reach, I would have reached out to lift his chin, it was that look of disappointment , the head droop , the kicking rocks…. I knew

He got in trouble at school. For the first time. Ever.

The van door opened, and he refused my kiss. As if he felt he didn’t deserve my affection, he sat down and handed me his behavior folder.

” I got on yellow today Momma. I didn’t mean to. I was talking to my friend during reading, and I had to go to time out. I cried because everyone saw me, and I was sorry.”

Let me be clear that I debated on writing on this subject, as my blog is never about my children’s faults, only mine. My motive in sharing this story isn’t to shame my son, but rather show how we handled this parenting situation. And show how we can learn and grow as a family when we make mistakes, then take ownership of them. Pick up the mess we made and clean it up. The mess we made can be forgiven by our Savior, and we too can forgive when our children sin.

My husband and I decided that we wanted him not to feel shame, but to feel responsible for how he must have made his teacher feel. A teacher that he respects and loves deeply, and speaks highly of. We explained that when he was talking while she was reading a story was called being disrespectful. A lot of head nods and tears came into play, and we ended with a huge bear hug.

The first thing we had him do was write a letter of apology to his teacher. I wanted him to see the words on the page, experience a true apology. Take time to be sincere , and ask for forgiveness. This took him a long time, as he is just learning to spell and print. We explained that a letter from ME, his Mother wouldn’t be acceptable. I was not the one in the wrong, he was. 

It was his duty to apologize.

I refuse to be the parent that backs up their children’s wrong doings. If I start now, then it would continue into his adult years. Always blaming someone ELSE for his faults. 

I’m raising a MAN, not a pansy.

The second thing we had him do was manual labor with my husband. He was required to help gather the fire wood for the wood stove. With safety gloves on, I watched him at first regret his sin. After a few minutes this became enjoyable for him. Working along side his Dad, using his hands to get dirty and get work done.

When he saw me looking, his smile changed to a look of exhaustion.

” Mom. Dad’s making me work, this is hard. But I’m a man.”

I nodded my head and went back inside. A smile came across my face as I knew he was learning what we had in mind.

1. We take responsibility when we sin.

2. We take responsibility when we hurt someones feelings.

3. We ask for forgiveness.

4. We take the consequences without whining and complaining.

5. We learn to BE FORGIVEN. We don’t stay in a place of shame.

We never spoke of the indecent again that night. We hugged and kissed him as usual. We ate dinner as a family as usual. Since he wasn’t allowed to watch TV before bed, we read books and he had to go to bed early. Without a peep of disapproval out of his mouth, he went to bed willingly.

The next day I reminded him to give his teacher the note. He assured me he wouldn’t forget, as he smiled. Proud of himself for taking ownership of it all.

He is six, but not for long. He will remember this for the rest of his life. The day he had to ask for forgiveness of someone in authority to him. I pray this follows him into his relationship with God. When he sins, to ask for forgiveness. To accept His love, even when we make mistakes. Just as he accepted our love the night before. We didn’t shame him, just showed him sins have consequences, no matter your age. No matter the reasoning.

He came home that day with the same note, that read:

The heart of his teacher moves me to my core. She is a loving teacher, perfect for our son.
The heart of his teacher moves me to my core. She is a loving teacher, perfect for our son.

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