Parenting presents an intricate dance between reliance and responsibility, shaping the path we pave for our children. As parents, we aim to guide them from dependence to taking ownership of their actions. Surprisingly, even classic tales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs hold insights, illustrating the contrast between waiting passively and embracing empowerment. Together, we’ll explore nurturing responsibility, drawing from timeless wisdom and practical experiences. We’ll explore the vital lessons that steer our children towards embracing challenges, cultivating resilience, and claiming their personal empowerment.
At birth, the dependency factor for a human being is 100 percent; and the responsibility factor starts out at zero.
And so, as a parent, my goal every year was to help the dependency factor go down and help the responsibility factor go up.
Years ago when the girls were younger, we rented the Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Now, of course, Snow White is an absolute classic… and yet, in terms of personal responsibility, I realized how much it models something very different than what I want for my daughters.
I mean, here’s a woman hiding from her image-obsessed stepmother because she feels powerless, helpless, and afraid. She then takes a job doing menial labor for seven short challenged cranky guys because she’s afraid she could never find more fulfilling work.
And the whole time she’s just passively waiting to get rescued by somebody while singing, “Someday, my prince will come.”
I wanted my girls to know: Don’t ever do that. If you’re ever in this situation, you just go and confront that evil queen face to face!
Tell her to come to grips with the aging process, and tell her that you have no intention of being the fall guy because of her neurotic insecurities about fading sexual attractiveness. Tell her to stop talking to her mirror and find a good therapist.
And tell the seven short, cranky guys to get a life. If they cannot handle the basic challenges of personal hygiene and housekeeping then they’ll have to find some other co-dependent enabler to support their domestic passivity.
And stop waiting for some prince to come and rescue you. Build deep relationships. Find meaningful work. Serve the poor.
And when it’s time to choose a prince, just know that Mommy and Daddy will decide who the prince is going to be.
You see when responsibility does not get developed in a human being, that person gets crippled. Responsibility is the capacity to own my life and my problems; it’s nobody else’s.
Paul writes about this in Galatians 6:5. To the church at Galatia, he says, “Each of you should carry your own load.” You’ve got to own your own life!
Parents, you can’t wait until a kid hits 18 to start teaching this lesson. Here’s an example that will often occur. A child will say to a parent, “I’m bored.” Do you ever hear that one? “I’m bored.”
And very often, the parent is tempted to take that on as his or her problem. So the mom, for example, will start generating ideas.
“Well, why don’t you go outside and play?” “No, that’s too boring.”
“Well, why don’t you call up some friends and have them come over?” “No, nobody’s home.”
And then the mom will just take it as her job to keep pitching ideas.
“Well, why don’t you draw a picture? Write a letter to the editor. Do a science experiment. Memorize a chapter of the Bible. Read War and Peace.”
“Boring… boring… boring… What else you got?”
You just keep pitching them, and your kid will just keep hitting them out… at least until he gets just what he wants.
So, what’s the child learning in this? The child is learning: My boredom is your problem; it’s your job to keep me entertained.
And if that’s what they learn, they will go through their life waiting for somebody else to come along and make their life interesting, fulfilling, easier, more comfortable, more workable. And that is far from living God’s best life for your children.
On the boredom deal, the correct response, if a kid comes to you with that one, is to say: “You know, boredom is a real problem, and I am confident that, besides TV, you’ll be able to come up with a really good solution.”
And then, you walk away. You walk away because they need to learn that this is their life and that they need to take responsibility for it.
The next value that I hope my kids are able to grab hold of is…
In thejourney of parenting, we mold our children’s path from dependency to responsibility. Snow White’s story teaches us to be proactive, not passive. We must help our children lower their dependence and raise responsibility from a young age. Even in simple situations like boredom, letting them find solutions empowers them to own their lives. This way, they grow resilient, independent, and ready to embrace life’s challenges. Let’s guide our kids to take charge, so they lead empowered lives filled with purpose.