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Give the Gift of Responsibility

Holidays are a time where there is a natural increase of entitlement in children and even in ourselves as adults.

For many, the tradition of wish lists are made and the expectation is high that those wishes and wants will be granted. We also know that developmentally, our adolescents and emerging young adults still live in a very egocentric place that can be exacerbated this time of year. This knowledge is crucial for parents when our feelings get hurt or our frustrations are high because of the often general lack of reciprocation that is spotlighted during the holiday season. It’s developmentally normal and still can be extremely challenging to be in a relationship with someone who is more focused on the me than the we.

On a regular basis in our coaching with parents, we each tend to hit repeat on the phrase, “increase responsibility to decrease entitlement”. This concept is one of the biggest strategies we as adults have in combating the developmental normalcy of adolescent egocentrism. It is also the best gift you can give to your children all year long and especially during this holiday season. Giving the gift of responsibility not only decreases the level of entitlement in our children, it also offers the opportunity for them to feel valued, to experience agency in their lives and often provides a brighter, more accepting lens into the relationships they are engaged in.

As you enter this holiday season consider a few tips as you add this gift of responsibility. We are clear that it is not a gift idea that will be checked off many, if not any lists created by your children, however, it’s crucial to remember, you are the gift giver so you get to decide on the gifts you give.

  • Spread out the holiday planning responsibilities to all. Use your skill set at list making to ensure everything is taken care of by delegating who can complete what on the list.
  • Engage everyone in the conversation to identify what continues to bring your family joy and what rituals potentially drain everyone because they have turned into an undesirable obligation.
  • As a parent, focus on decreasing any tendency you have to overfunction for others and (forcefully) encourage others to share in the responsibility of ensuring desired holiday rituals take place.
  • Practice the skill of collaboration as decisions are made about how to navigate the unstructured downtime of the vacations.
  • Provide the limitations and allow for the responsibility to create agreed upon healthy management of the potential overuse of devices and other unhealthy habits during this time.
  • Encourage your children to give the gift of time to others- taking on a sibling’s or a parent’s chore, helping out a grandparent or neighbor, enjoying an experience together to counter the tendency to lean into material items as the only worthy gifts.
  • As you see the entitlement start to rear its ugly head, focus more on responsibility (everyone’s ability to respond to what is in front of them) and less on accountability (accounting for who did what). Accountability may give you the knowledge that there is ownership to the entitlement that occurred but increasing the ongoing responsibility will give you so much more, including potentially quieting down the daily entitlement.

The gift of responsibility to your child will truly be the gift that keeps on giving.

As you practice giving this gift, we encourage you to focus much of your energy on spreading out the responsibility of creating fun this holiday season.

From our family to yours,

Happy Holiday Season!

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Solutions Parenting Support, LLC is a nationally recognized parent support and transition program assisting parents and families with straightforward and compassionate skills based support prior to, during and after wilderness therapy and/or residential treatment. Solutions is a dynamic team of parent coaches who have had extensive careers as therapists in wilderness therapy or residential treatment before turning their talents towards coaching parents around the globe. The team is family system focused and are licensed professional therapists and/or social workers each with 15-30 years of experience working in wilderness therapy programs, varying levels of residential treatment programming, and transitional support.

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