Teach Them Later

Your child forgot her backpack again. The school is calling to ask if you will be bringing it to your child. You know that the only way she will learn responsibility is to suffer the consequence of being at school without her backpack. But it will hurt her grades so you make a different decision this time. You’ll teach her about responsibility…later. You decide to take the back pack to school. Just this once.


You are trying to get out of the house to your evening activity. Your son just won’t eat his vegetables. He is sitting at the table playing with his food, refusing to finish eating so he can get ready. You insist that he clean up his plate, but the clock is ticking. Rather than take his plate and dump it in the trash with a one liner about it not being too long until breakfast in the morning, you carefully wrap the plate and place it in the refrigerator. It’s not a good time to teach responsibility. Not right now. Maybe when you have more time and you don’t have to be somewhere. You can teach this later.


Any parent of a teenager knows how fast the early years fly right by. It seems like just yesterday that their giant-sized teen was in a high chair playing airplane. Grandparents know how quickly a couple of decades can go by. Other parents understand how important these opportunities are to the development of their children. It is just so tempting to decide that today is not the day for lessons on responsibility. We can teach these lessons tomorrow.


Love and Logic parents understand that there is no time like the present. When irresponsibility calls, we need to make sure the answer is, “nobody’s home.” Our child is growing and developing daily; we can’t postpone the important lessons of life until we are comfortable or wait for a convenient time.


Please think of each opportunity to parent your child as a golden moment that turns their heart one way or their other. When we wait to teach responsibility, we allow another dose of irresponsibility to replace the good in our children. The more water we allow in the boat, the longer it takes to scoop it out and get back to rowing.

Dr. Matt Crain writes weekly for the Sunday Newspaper from his Connecting Fathers and Families Ministry.