Making Decisions

This morning I’m sitting here taking in typical news headlines and reviewing the continual problem that plagues our nation and others today: Responsibility, or rather the lack of it.

More and more I see a world where there are no grown ups and a game to see who can beat all the things related to the process. One can scarcely make it through a single day without seeing at least a half dozen ads for products that claim the ability to skirt the side affects of aging skin and that’s to say nothing of all those that entice adults to act like adolescents. The message is clear – being ‘young’ equates to no responsibilities and only good things – eat, drink and be merry someone else will clean up. In short, being young is the most overused excuse in the book for people big enough to know better justifying their actions, whether it’s for poor decisions regarding their health to bad behavior. And yet we wonder why we see headlines like revered Olympic champions engaging in drug use. We even help frame the responses in excuses of youth as if that would make a decision more acceptable like Michael Phelps:

“I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

There is so much I could say about this, but let’s start with some positives. 1) He accepted responsibility for his choice. 2) He recognized the true nature of his choice. 3) He understands that his status results in high expectations especially in that of role model and 4) he apologized. There’s a hint of number five in there with a resolve but I can’t make myself list that for some reason. Maybe I just don’t know him well enough or I’m a stickler for actions speaking louder than words so need more time for that one to be on my list of positives.

At any rate, in this way I only hope I can teach my children the same critical lessons of life.

The big negatives for me in this are the framework of the “young” excuse and the reality of how critical expectations can be. To me the excuse of being young falls flat. People with two numbers in their age can’t use that crutch the way those with only one can and they shouldn’t. It’s a stupid reason to do dumb things and it can’t erase the personal responsibility of our actions.

And what of expectations? Well, in short I find that people often live up to or fall just short of them. This is good news if they’re high, but what if they’re low? How many people are swept aside simply because no one expects anything from them? Is it any wonder that there is so little accountability and responsibility? Michael Phelps is not the majority of young adults. What of all those who don’t feel the pressure of high expectations? The average, lost in the daily shuffle folks who make up the majority. Who do they answer to for their bad decisions? What reasons do they have to care? These answers are important because they represent the molding process for character. When you understand why you do what you do you’re on the path to self mastery. And it’s on this journey that you learn that no one can make you do, be, say or feel anything. You make your own decisions simply because you do or don’t want to. The consequences of those decisions may curtail freedoms and future choices but that doesn’t change the reality that the choice itself was ours and ours alone.

This hits a big nerve for me and one that my husband and I spend a great deal of time discussing. It’s the constant battle of helping your children learn to make good decisions on their own and for the right reasons, of knowing when you’re doing too much or too little. I know my kids have to make good decisions because they want to and not because they feel that they have to. I know I can’t be there every minute of every day to help guide them in making right choices. They have to learn through their own experiences, just as I did. I just hope I’m doing enough to arm them with the right tools and that they will be enough in a world that screams irresponsibility.

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6 comments on “Making Decisions

  1. Amen, amen, amen! I think lack of responsibilty is one of the biggest problems facing our country right now. It is so scary to see the consequences played out in private and public arenas daily. I agree wholeheartedly that one of my chief aims as a parent is to teach my children responsibility. Growing up is a good thing–wish more people would try it :)

    It would be nice if we could pass it around as prolifically as the bogus e-mails wouldn’t it?!

  2. This wasn’t his first mistake. He was also cited for drunken driving after he won all those medals in the 2004 Olympics.

    Yeah, funny how brightly we color those pedestals and how quickly too!

  3. Well said.

    Thanks!

  4. Agreed. I’m also fascinated by the number of elected officials who are coming up for important positions within our government and seem to have “forgotten” the repsonsibility of paying taxes.

    I tend to use these situations to explain to our 14 year old that being an adult means living daily with the results of your choices. In the case of those elected officials, these are examples of what NOT to do.

    Well, off to finish preparing dinner!

    So true!!

  5. I was very shocked at the news, too. I think that if you’re going to be a public figure then you have to take responsibility of doing the right things in life. It comes with the territory.

    I agree, where much is given much is required. :)

  6. I agree completely! I was rather disgusted when I heard about this the other day. Hope you have a great day!

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

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