Taking responsibility for oneself
Dec 20, 2010
In my childhood (and sometimes even today), as an Indian, I have noticed a parental behavior that is particularly interesting. We know children are spontaneous and playful by nature. They are also highly ignorant of the many risks in normal life. Driven by curiosity and playfulness they potentially tend to walk into situations that can cause hurt.
All parents are instinctively watchful. However, in India, I have usually seen the parent rush to lift the child away and prevent the child enter the situation. The tone and emotions used by parents generally promote panic and fear in the child.
When I visited America for the first time about 20 years ago, I went to a park one sunny afternoon. I noticed a parental behavior that was in sharp contrast. A toddler strayed away from his mom and was about to touch a small rocky surface in an attempt to climb it. Mom noticed this and called out from a distance.. "Ted... You better watch what you are doing and take responsibility for your action". The tone was sharp, assertive and serious. The child stopped on his tracks and questioned his mom what would happen. She said "If I were you I wouldn't touch that rock". He asked why and she said "It could be too hot from the sun.. You know". The child pondered for a moment and came back to ask more questions.
In the first case, the parent took complete responsibility of the situation and stumped the child's thinking. The second case is a more desirable way training a human being to take responsibility for oneself. The former is a case of being the forever false bottom on a hollow glass tube. The latter is the strategy of nurturing the construction of that bottom to make it hold water. First is the case of feeding a person each day. Second is the case of teaching a person to feed oneself. Children who are nurtured the second way are likely to understand self leadership much early in life. Leading oneself is required to create the ambience necessary to lead others.