–Originally published on FWB21 March 27, 2011–
I’m currently reading Boundaries with Kids, by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s chock full of really great stuff on child-rearing from a biblical perspective. I’ll spare you an endless string of great quotes and highlight one section that stood out to me in relation to my post “Log Extraction Is Painful

One of the hallmarks of maturity is taking responsibility for one’s own life, desires, and problems. … Mature adults see themselves as problem solvers instead of trying to find someone else to blame or to solve problems for them. p. 74

What does that have to with my previous post? Everything. “Maturity is taking responsibility… instead of trying to find someone else to blame.” It’s going through the difficulty of removing a log before trying to pick out a speck. It’s accepting the fact that I’m as much (or more) to blame as anyone else.

God must really be trying to teach me something here, because this same theme keeps popping up. In my daily reading in Deuteronomy, I noticed that Moses shifted the blame to Israel for his not getting to enter the promised land:

Furthermore, the Lord was angry with me because of you, and he swore that I should not cross the Jordan, and that I should not enter the good land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance. Deut. 4:21

I thought, what is Moses doing?! It’s his own fault that he put himself in the place of God and pretended that he was the one who gave Israel water from a rock ! It was his own presumptuousness that got him only a stone’s throw from the promised land and no closer.

Incredulous at Moses’ audacity, my mind went back to the scene in Genesis 3 and all the blame-shifting that went on there. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent… From the dawn of sin, we humans have been prone to seek someone else to blame for our own mess.

And I am no exception.

Lately in my pursuit of Christ, the Spirit is impressing upon me my need not only to take responsibility for my own actions, but also to teach my children to do the same. Which brings me back to Boundaries with Kids: Children need to know that their problems are their own problems, no one else’s. Their life is their own little red wagon, and their job is to pull it, without expecting someone else to. …

Taking responsibility for themselves does not come naturally to children. …

So a large part of your boundary training with your kids will have to do with helping them understand that they must gradually take responsibility for their own problems. What begins as the parent’s burden must end up as the child’s.

I have the responsibility to teach my children personal responsibility–to gradually transfer ownership of their emotions, attitudes, and behavior from me to them. And that means that I have got to get a hold of it myself. I can’t blame anyone else if I’m running late (which I frequently am). I can’t ignore my duties at home and expect my spouse to pick up my slack just because I’m having a bad day. I must step up and do my part, and I must take responsibility for the times when I fall short.

Today, I will pull my own little red wagon.

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