How is it that when we think we're doing everything we’re supposed to do and follow every good parenting guideline, our kids end up acting irresponsible and at times flat out defiant? 

Here is something Alfred Adler talked about: “Perceived Inadequacy”.  What it means is that we are all born dependent on the adults in our lives.  We are limited in our ability to do things for ourselves.  They have all the power.  So right away we kids see the world as not very fair.  We want to feel capable and self reliant but that is an ongoing process.   We have to learn many skills, practice, make numerous mistakes and try again.  All of which also requires us to have courage and patience.  We also need a few good mentors to help us pave the way into adulthood.   

When you think back to when you were a kid, was there a time you remember being irresponsible or even outright defiant? How did you feel?  Did you also feel powerless?  

We are steeped in "perceived inadequacy"; (inaccurately) feeling "less than".  We have been led to believe that  taking responsibility and being accountable somehow also means we are to blame if things go poorly.  Who wants to feel like a failure?   Blaming can feel very powerful and puts the ones pointing the finger, in a superior place, above accountability. 

It's no different for our kids.  They don't want to take on responsibility, because they don't want the criticism and blame.  What will happen if they do not do it well enough, or screw up and we in turn blame them for being clumsy, careless or untrustworthy.  Ask yourself, who are the overly responsible parents?  Having been one I can tell you; we're the perfectionists. Our kids are tuned into it and guard against it for fear of falling short.

It seems the very fiber of our societal norms has become skewed as to who should be responsible and what it even means.  We hear daily accusations directed at people for being irresponsible and unaccountable and then those serving up the accusations, turn around, do the same and have no problem with it.

When we find ourselves lacking, we either lash out or hide out.  Either way we don't want the blame, we don't want to be held accountable and don't want the responsibility either.  We're sort of all in a bout of fisticuffs, stuck in a puddle of muck we've created.  So how do we get out?

We work together at establishing an atmosphere where there is give and take, rather then one ruler and many subjects.  No one wants to be at the bottom.  This breeds mistrust, resentment and mutiny.  

We each grew up differently and even though some of us have all the power now, we might want to share it.   Instead of doing more of what doesn't work, let's focus our energy on things that do work.   Have the courage to try something different and you might just get a different response.   Building our relationships by working together does not make us weak, as some would want you/us to believe.  When you and your kids/family/friends work together, involved in taking on tasks, figuring things out and making progress towards common goals, do you feel weak?  We all want input in the day to day decisions that impact us.  Trusting one another and realizing that messing up takes courage and requires great inner strength.  None of us have all the answers but together we have this collective wisdom to find them.  If you do that with your kids, you will soon find out how responsible, functioning and happy they can be.  Once we figure it out for ourselves, we can become the ripples of change.

I used to love watching the Partridge Family.  They always had problems, yet they always found a way to figure it out together.


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