Teaching Children Accountability
For some reason, many children are growing up thinking
that they are
not responsible for their actions and that there will be no
consequences for their choices. It could be the modern media,
video games where the main character has nine lives, or even
popular Hollywood figures that helps them to believe this lie. No
matter who or what it is that seems to be spreading the idea that
there is no accountability for our choices, it's up to us as
parents to stop it.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak with 650 teenagers at a
week long conference. It was interesting to see the "light turn
on," as we discussed how your choices not only affect who you are,
but may affect your posterity as well. There are hundreds of
examples of people who made the choice to break away from poverty
stricken circumstances in order to bless the lives of their
posterity. Benjamin Franklin is a perfect example of this. Coming
to America he had only two loaves of bread under his arms, and yet
his posterity, as well as many Americans, have greatly benefited
from his wisdom.
Unfortunately the same formula applies to those who make unwise choices.
Drugs seem to be slithering into our culture like a venomous serpent.
When someone chooses to use drugs, they not only affect their lives,
but the lives of their children (or future children) as well. It's sad
to see children who have been brought up in homes were drugs have been made available, and then to see those same children end up taking the same
substance which caused the demise of their parents. Sadly, it usually takes
between four or five generations to break the chain. In reality, it only needs
to take one. This requires the courage to begin making wise choices. That is
what we need to teach our children.
Family meetings are a great way to teach children and teens alike between
right and wrong. Sometimes it's hard to come up with ideas on how
to teach your kids in the most effective way. So, I've included
here an idea on how to teach your children "the consequences of
making a choice." Feel free to adapt this little lesson idea for
your own family and let me know the outcome.
Choices and Consequences
(I usually start our family meetings with prayer and a song. I
encourage you to do this because it seems to get the meeting
started off on the right foot.)
Have displayed on your kitchen cabinets the ingredients for
different kinds of cookies. (chocolate chip, snicker doodles,
sugar, peanut butter, etc.) Explain to your family that today you
will be making cookies for your meeting and at the end of the
meeting everyone gets to eat them. (After the cheers have died
down, begin explaining the rules.)
Rule #1 You cannot use a recipe. All ingredients and other
preparation techniques (cooking temp, time for stirring, etc.) must
come from your own choices..
Rule #2 When the cookies are finished baking, each of you must
promise now that you will at least take one bite of your creation.
(Make them all promise)
Allow the family to begin making their cookies together and during
the creative process add comments such as, "That's a good choice,"
or "Are you sure that's a wise decision?" If you have kids in your
family who have made cookies before, allow them to be a big help by
saying things like, "Do you remember the last time you made cookies
how much flour you needed to put in?" or "Through your experience
of cookie baking, what needs to come next?" If the process doesn't
seem to be going anywhere, feel free to start putting the products
into the mixing bowl yourself and letting the children comment.
(If I were doing this with younger children I would select the
ingredients and let them pour it into the mixing bowl.
With younger children, you may want to review the recipe before making
the cookies. That way the cookies will be sure to turn out good
and the young children will have a great experience with the
choices that were made. With teens I would let them do as they
please and comment here and there about the ingredients they
choose. Continue to remind your children throughout the activity
that it doesn't matter "who" puts the ingredients in, but "what"
ingredients are put in. The ingredients that your family puts into
the mixing bowl will probably determine whether or not your family
is happy with the outcome!
While the cookies are baking, share appropriate stories of men who
have made good decisions and bad decisions in their lives and how it
not only affected their lives, but also the lives of their posterity.
Stories of ancestors, national heroes or even spiritual leaders
could be told during this segment. You may even want to include a
personal experience from your own life. All ages of children love
to hear stories about their mom and dad.
When the cookies are finished, give everybody a glass of milk (just
in case they need to wash it down quickly) and everybody take a
bite of the cookie at the same time. You'll get a priceless
Close your meeting by summarizing the importance of making good
decisions and how your decisions will affect not only yourselves, but
an entire family. If you were doing this with teenagers, comment on
how their previous experience with making cookies made these
cookies successful. Explain that lessons learned through previous experiences
from our own lives, or the live of others can help us with our current
decisions in life.
Challenge your family to consciously think about the decisions they make
throughout the upcoming week. Continue to remind the kids throughout the
week by asking questions such as, "What are you going to choose to do?" and "How did you come up with that decision? Is it really the best decision?"
Follow up with them the following week on how their choices affected their
If you are religious and would like to include scriptural examples
in your lessons, you can tell the story of David and Bathsheba from
2 Samuel 11 and ask the following questions:
How did David's decision affect him personally?
How did David's decision affect his family? (2 sam 12-15)
If individual decisions can affect our family, what kind of
decisions can you make this week that would help strengthen your
Good luck with your lesson and I hope to hear from you regarding
Rick Jensen, MA
For more information on lessons you can teach in your home, refer to our
"Positive Parenting" book at: