What's the Matter with Kids Today?

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I was a theater kid. One big school play was Bye Bye Birdie. I was part of the chorus (hey, I never said I was a star). The male lead was my (recent) ex-boyfriend and I was part of the group of girls who were swooning over him on stage. BLEH!

Anyway, one of my favorite songs of the entire production is "Kids!"

I hope you took a couple of minutes to see the whole song! As fun as that song is, and as familiar as some of the sentiments, I will say that parents aren't wrong to lament about the lack of accountability they see in their kids.

As a parenting coach, I wonder about that.

Why are kids not accountable?

Certainly, parents play a role if they don't hold their children accountable. Part of my coaching is to help parents create a personalized parenting plan from creating a mission statement to developmentally appropriate and effective consequences (and a lot in-between).

But I think there's something else, too. I've been doing a lot of reading and work around Brene Brown's research on wholehearted living. And what I've learned is that there's not going to be accountability without vulnerability. Brene Brown says that accountability includes three things:

Authenticity (this is what I did) Action (this is how I'll fix it) Amends (this is how I'll make it right)

All three of those things require vulnerability. So what happens when someone in your home screws up? I'll tell you what happens in my house a lot of the time:

finger pointing blame excuses eye-rolls

Sound familiar? And when those things happen, no one DARES to be vulnerable. There's just no room for it. But when we say:

I was wrong. I made a mistake. I don't know.

Then something is very, very different.

The atmosphere is different. Heart rates decrease. Volumes go down. Eyes are focused. And hearts are open.

Because when someone dares to be vulnerable by taking accountability for their actions, there's no need for finger-pointing, blame, excuses, or eye-rolls. And the most natural response is empathy. Empathy can look and sound like:

That's okay, I've been wrong before, too. I remember one time ... I get it. Did I ever tell you about the time when I ... I can appreciate that. Well, we can ... I'm sorry, too.

And just like that, our kids learn that when they are accountable for their actions, they are met with empathy and love and cooperation.

And although the research shows people who learn to live wholeheartedly don't have to have had parents that taught them how, it does show us that those who learned it at home don't have to fight so hard to get to wholehearted living.

If you want to learn more about this topic, I recommend you read "The Power of Vulnerability" by Brene Brown. I'm listening to it on Audible (not sure if it's in print form) but your local library may have it so you can listen to it for free!