Responsibility is a tremendously important concept every parent tries to teach their children! Has one of your children ever used something of yours and damaged it while he had it? Chances are, if that thing had any value at all, you talked to your child about being more careful. Then, as a good steward of God’s resources, you probably made sure your child couldn’t get to other valuable things and break them. He or she had to demonstrate more responsibility and earn back your trust, right?
Why do we get bent out of shape when our kids break something? That “thing” represents some type of value. The categories of value we typically recognize are sentimental, monetary or possibly both. I would guess a majority of the time; the financial value is the most significant category to most men. So how do we help our children place value on things but still have an accurate view point of our possessions?
I want to share an idea that has been very effective in our home. We had a situation several months ago that provided a great opportunity to teach responsibility.
Kablam, is the sound heard when a punching balloon, explodes. We heard this sound twice over two days and my oldest daughter was responsible for popping both balloons. By accident, she successfully broke both of her sister’s balloons. She felt terrible both times the balloons exploded as she cried and was very remorseful about her actions. I was watching her during one of the explosions, and it was completely unintentional.
However, whether or not she intended to pop the balloons, she was still responsible. We have a family rule that if you break something, whether accidentally or on purpose, you pay to replace the item. We believe in teaching our daughters to take responsibility for their actions. Saturday morning we jumped in the minivan and made the short drive to Wal-Mart. We finally found the punching balloons (they are not in the toy department but instead are in party supplies.) Since we had to ask for help in locating the balloons we had a Wal-Mart associate with us as we discovered the balloons. However, as we picked up the bag of balloons, it was very evident someone had taken one of the balloons. The bag had a big hole and only three of the four balloons were still in the bag. Fortunately, for us this was the last bag in the store.
As we walked to the cash register, I inquired to the Wal-Mart associate if we could purchase the balloons for less than the $2.00 marked price since one balloon was missing. I told her I would be willing to pay $1.00, and she accepted my offer!
What a day, two lessons from one balloon popping. As we drove home, I asked our oldest daughter again why we purchased the balloons and who paid for the balloons. She told me because she popped her sister’s balloon, and she paid for the balloon. I then asked her if she would rather pay $1.00 for a balloon or $.33. She told me $.33 and we discussed how I could negotiate with the employee because even though the product was not whole, which in our case, was acceptable.
We can use money to teach our children biblical principles and fulfill our responsibility to teach our children character at the same time!