Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

Joseph – a Valuable Member of the Nativity Scene

Monday, September 12th, 2016

This is the time of year when people do a lot of focusing on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We marvel at what a wonderful person she must have been to have God choose her for the Mother of His Son.

We spend so much time focusing on her that we overlook a really key player in this earthly family of Christ.  It’s the man God chose to be the earthly father of Christ.

God didn’t just come to Mary to discuss the arrival of this child. Certainly, He sent His angel to let her know what the plan was and Mary, in essence, said “whatever You want, I will do.” Mary made her choice.  I am convinced she had the option to agree or decline.  It must have taken a great deal of inner strength to agree to such a life-changing event. But God didn’t send His angel only to Mary. He also sent him to Joseph.  The Bible tells us that Joseph was a Godly man who knew that he had a tough choice to make where Mary was concerned. She was pregnant and single. Totally unacceptable to the church of his time – or to anyone for that matter. In today’s world, he could easily have been the man who said, ‘not my kid; not my problem’ just before walking out the door.

Not so for Joseph. He accepted his responsibility as fiancee’ for Mary and was working on his options when God sent His angel to have a talk with Joseph.  Joseph, too, made a choice. He accepted the responsibility of raising God’s Son.

I find it interesting to note that the Bible tells us that Mary watched everything that happened and ‘pondered it in her heart.’ It was Joseph that was the do-er in the family. Further instructions for the protection of the child were given to him. The angel was sent to Joseph to warn him to take the child somewhere safe.  Joseph just went to Mary and said ‘pack up. We’re out of here.’ Later, it was again Joseph who is told that it is safe to return home.  When he did come back, he went to Nazareth. I’ve wondered about that some. My pastor says there was a lot of construction going on near there so maybe Joseph was just going where the jobs were.  Part of me wonders, though, if he was still protecting Jesus and Mary.  Protecting them from the stigma of being born to an unwed mother – a truly scandalous thing in those days.  Even if the circumstances of His birth did become known, Nazareth was a tough town by all accounts. People said, “can any good come out of Nazareth?” So with any luck at all, nobody would care.

Jesus, Himself, became a carpenter like his earthly father, Joseph. Tells me that Joseph spent some time teaching Jesus a trade and Jesus respected him enough to be willing to to spend some time following in his footsteps. The type of earthly father Jesus should have was as important to God as the earthly mother He chose. It was a team effort – this raising of Jesus. As a team, they went hunting Him when He was missing from the traveling group at the age of 12.  It was Joseph who scolds him saying “your mother and I were searching for You”.

Fathers, just because the woman is the one who gives birth doesn’t make her the only one responsible for the training and the upbringing of the child. Your input is critical. God shows us that by the care He took in choosing Joseph. He shows us that by letting us know that it is Joseph to whom He gave instructions on the safety and protection of the child.  Be the man God wants you to be. Seek His guidance as head of your household. Never underestimate the importance of your role.

You Have a Brain in Your Head

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Our little Princess has been having some problems lately. They involve accepting responsibility for her actions.


It’s hard to do that even as adults but for her – the one who has always been perfect in the eyes of her Grandpa – it seems especially hard. She tries to explain that she had to do what she did. Her friend told her to. Of course, we know the ‘if your friends all jumped off a cliff’ saying and we go ahead and say it. She tries other arguments. The ones that go, I didn’t think you would care just this once and I can’t help myself. I just do it without thinking. And there is always ‘the devil made me do it’. Somehow we just aren’t buying any of them.

The other day, since consequences and the ‘jumping off a cliff’ talk wasn’t working, I decided to try a different quote.

This one from Dr.  Seuss. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.  You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”  I know she understands this.  For her, the difficulty comes when her friends want her to do what she knows is wrong.  She gives in and then compounds the problem by refusing to accept her responsibility.

It’s not her fault. She had to do it.

Thinking about this – and being frustrated about my inability to get through to her – I searched for examples of adult behavior in these same circumstances. I was struck by how often we, who should be showing her how to stand up for what is right, have been modeling for her the behavior she uses. It’s not our fault we yelled obscenities at the driver in the car next to us.  He was driving like an idiot and, besides, I had a rough day at work. It’s not my fault.  I didn’t remember it was my turn to bring the snacks to the kids sports game. I was busy with things at work and forgot. It’s not my fault is our battle cry. When we hang out with the kind of people we tell them to avoid, when we shirk our responsibilities, when we break those little pesky speed limit laws, even in the littlest things, we can’t just say “I screwed up. I’m sorry.” When it comes to the big things —– well, let’s just not go there.

I’ve decided to focus a little more carefully on accepting responsibility myself. After all, even though she won’t admit it, she models herself after me and her mother and her grandfather. We are the ones responsible for showing her how a true adult acts just as you are responsible for showing your children how they should act.  Let’s all work a little harder at being the mature adult we hope they will someday become.

May 2 Quote of the Day

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.
Albert Ellis

It’s important to realize that to truly be able to call yourself an adult, you must accept responsibility for your problems. We tend to want to blame our failings on our upbringing or our environment but until we accept that we are adults and capable of making choices for ourselves, we can never truly grow as individuals. If we want to control our destiny, we have to first accept that we control our own choices.

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

For just a moment, let’s look at this scenario. You are out to dinner with an acquaintance. Bored with the discussion, you have placed one elbow on the table and your chin in your hand as you listen to your dinner partner drone on and on. He notices this indiscretion of yours and reminds you that it isn’t polite to put your elbows on the table. You can’t believe he just said that! Who is he to tell you how to act? So you put your other elbow on the table and pronounce defiantly, ‘Really?!’ You have just broken a rule of etiquette. Whose fault is it?

Most of us are going to blame the dinner partner for ticking us off and causing us to react as we did. But, honestly, he didn’t reach across the table, grab your arm and force your elbow to the table. That elbow is still attached to your arm and you are still the one in control of what that arm does. You know the rules of etiquette and you are quite capable of living by them. In this case, you have chosen not to. You may be justified in your reasoning for breaking the rule but that doesn’t make it anyone’s fault but your own.

When we were children, we all tried these arguments. He hit me first! She took my toy so I scribbled on her paper. He called me a name so I pushed him down. It was always someone else’s fault and we felt we were justified in our reactions. We also felt totally victimized when we were punished for it anyway. We’re not children anymore. We’re adults. It’s time we recognize that we can not justify our behavior by blaming someone else. Everyone in the office takes home office supplies when they need them so why shouldn’t I? It doesn’t matter how many others are doing it. Theft is theft. If there were an earthquake in your area and buildings were damaged, would you go into a store and pick out whatever you wanted? Dozens of others will be doing just exactly that but looting is looting. You can’t justify it by pointing to others and their behavior.

Just as common is the tendency to blame our parents for the way we act now. If it’s a little thing, we say ‘it’s just the way I was brought up. I have a hard time breaking that habit.’ It’s all Mom and Dad’s fault. They didn’t bring me up right. We even try to blame Mom and Dad for the abuse and neglect of our children! We don’t want to look at the thousands of others out there who were abused and neglected as children and still managed to turn their lives around and give a better home for their families. We blame our parents because we drink too much or smoke too much or any other number of vices. If you take the time to look at it, 30 years ago no one knew smoking caused cancer and it took even longer for people to realize that secondhand smoke was dangerous. Even if we didn’t know that, your parents are not standing there handing you one-too-many alcoholic beverages and they aren’t standing there forcing that cigarette between your lips. You are in control of the movements you make.

Yes, others can influence our behavior but it’s our choice which path we walk down. Accept responsibility for what you do and who you are. Start today by choosing one thing that you’ve allowed to slide in your life because it’s easier to blame someone else than to break the habit. Make each day a source of improvement. Other people can influence you. Only you can decide how that influence will play out in your life.

Hostile When Thwarted

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Parenthood has it drawbacks. I know this because I’ve been a parent for a lot of years. Now, I’m not saying the drawbacks are severe enough to make me want to quit parenting. I love my children. I love my family, my grandkids, the dogs and my life. But the drawbacks can cause me moments of stress. Particularly when they highlight for me what my flaws are. I like to think that certain things are self-evident. For instance, clothing – still on hangers – has probably not been worn and doesn’t belong in the dirty clothes hamper. If you spill a bowl of cereal on the floor, it shouldn’t be left there for me to clean up. If you’re staying up late to watch movies, you shouldn’t leave empty popcorn bowls, crumpled up chip bags, and half finished soda cans all over the family room. I am not your personal slave. Clean up your own mess! Put your clothes away! Don’t throw them on your bedroom floor! I’m starting to use a lot of punctuation marks. I’m not that far away from capital letters. My frustration level thinking of these things is rising. I learned years ago that I am a Type A personality which means I get hostile when thwarted. I mention this merely because I know that there are hundreds – maybe even thousands – of mothers who come home from work everyday to the same scenario I do. You walk in the door and hostility kicks in. Hostility is not good for either you or your children. You are going to give yourself high blood pressure and heart problems way too soon in life and your children are going to be hiding from the ’mommy monster’ which will definitely effect your relationship with them. So, is there a solution to this particular drawback? I think there is.

First, we need to recognize that children are people in training and we are the trainers. Training them with consequences for their behavior needs to occur in order to teach them but volcanic explosions of anger are overkill. There are a couple of ways I have learned to do this. First, try to find a little humor. For instance, I had a note posted on the laundry room door for a while that said ‘clothing found on hangers in the laundry will get their owners flogged with said hanger.’ Now, obviously, no one was actually going to be flogged but I was able to vent a little while reminding them that, if they took the clothes off the rack and decided not to wear them, they should put them back ON the rack and NOT the floor. Secondly, recognize that they are not doing these things as a personal attack on you. They are doing them because they are children and need to be trained. And, finally, try to recognize the actual importance of these misbehaviors. An easy way to help you do this while teaching your children better habits is to establish a system of ‘fines’. Simply forgetting to pick up after themselves is worth a quarter from their allowance. Spilling food on the floor and leaving it there is a little more serious. Someone might slip and fall. A $1.00 might be a good fine for that. Forgetting to shut and lock the front door when they head off for school is even more serious. A $5.00 fine is in order. The highest fine (maybe $10.00) should be given if serious injury could occur because of their sloppiness. An example might be dropping a butcher knife on the floor where the baby is crawling and leaving it there.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help drop your homecoming mood from ‘hostile’ to just ‘frustrated’. You can remember you love your children and they can learn that part of your love for them includes consequences. With perseverance (and luck) they will start improving their behavior and your homecoming will become more enjoyable.

Dog or No Dog?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Q: My children have been asking for a dog. Now that they’ve seen the news reports of Obama getting a dog for his girls, their nagging has gotten even worse. Everyone says a dog will teach them responsibility but I’m afraid it’ll just end up being another chore for me. I work full time and just don’t think I have time for anything else. What do you think?

A: Just because Obama got a dog doesn’t mean your children need one. I’ll go with the old adage ‘if your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?’ Probably not. Also, it isn’t the dog that will be teaching your children responsibility. It will be you using the dog as a tool to teach them responsibility. You will be the one having to insist that the children get up early enough to walk the dog and to feed and water the dog before school. You will be the one having to insist that they let the dog out after school and that they recheck his food and water supply. You will be the one having to say ‘brush the dog, take the dog out before you go to bed’, etc. And, of course, there is the added time involved in taking the dog to the vet and keeping dog food and supplies on hand. Not to mention the job of housebreaking the dog if you get a puppy. So the question is not whether or not the children should get a dog. The question is whether or not you are ready to take on this added responsibility. It doesn’t sound to me like you are. So, while having a pet can be a wonderful learning tool for a child, I think you should wait until you’re ready to teach them that lesson.