Do You Use Accountability as a Club or a Staff?

Accountability helps children develop into mature adults. It teaches them wisdom and gives them insight into the consequences of various behaviors. Accountability enables children to know right from wrong, to courageously stand for right, and to live out values of virtue and integrity. With that goal in mind, parents hold children accountable. But, do you wield accountability as if it were a club or a staff?
When a parent uses accountability as a club, they use it to beat the wrong behavior out of their child. A parent who uses accountability as a club will constantly pound their children with a verbal barrage of unmet expectations and disappointments. Yelling, name-calling, and lecturing will leave the emotional bruises of an accountability club. The accountability club is also seen in the wallop of public humiliation and the thrashing of excessive punishment received from a parent lashing out in anger. The parent who uses accountability as a club focuses on the wrong, the negative. They hold the club of accountability high, waiting to “catch ’em being bad” so they can immediately pounce on the negative behavior of their children. Parents who use accountability as a club believe that rules alone produce good character; and, so, the club of accountability becomes the only tool of choice.
Accountability can also be used as a staff. When parents use accountability as a staff, they use it to guide their children toward positive behavior, to encourage their movement toward the desired character of virtue and integrity. Although a staff can provide a “stronger than gentle” nudge in the right direction, it does so in an effort to instruct and train the child in the dangers of negative behavior. Parents who use accountability as a staff recognize progress and express pride in their children’s gifts and strengths. They strive to “catch ’em being good” and then continue to lead their children in that positive direction. Accountability as a staff also becomes a tool parents can use to lift their children up with encouragement or to lovingly lift them out of pits in which they may have fallen.
The only problem with using accountability as a staff is that it eventually leads to children’s independence. The loving instruction, training, support, and guidance of accountability as a staff will produce mature children who make wise decisions…children who will no longer need us for every decision…children who grow independent enough to live their own lives. When we use accountability like a staff, we work our way out of a job…and, who wants to do that?

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