There are parallel, if not competing, truths existing in my life:
The alcoholic home I grew up in shaped me in every way.
I am accountable for all of my thoughts, emotions, words, actions, and results.
Recently, on our Raising Accountable Kids Facebook page, a follower posted this question:
“When do children become responsible for their behavior and choices?”
As the authors of Raising Accountable Kids, Karen and I boldly and confidently provided this profound answer:
We don’t know.
Meaning, there is no specific birthday in a child’s life when parents throw a party to make this announcement:
OUR KID IS NOW ACCOUNTABLE!!!
But, the truth is, an Age of Accountability must arrive for each of us or we’ll spend our lives mired in excuse-making, blaming, finger-pointing, whining, and victim thinking.
Or suffer from an entitlement mentality because someone “owes us.”
The question is, when does unhealthy I am the product of my family! thinking end and healthy I am accountable for my life! thinking begin?
As the youngest of four, it surely wasn’t my fault that I was raised in a family system heavily influenced by an alcoholic parent, where the other parent played the classic “enabler” role perfectly. I didn’t choose to grow up in Dysfunction Junction. I didn’t ask to become the Miller family “mascot.”
Do you know a mascot?
“The mascot is often the youngest sibling. They are cute, funny, and charming. No one takes them too seriously. They may be the class clown in school. Their job is to provide fun and humor. This child usually knows least what is going on in the family and they feel fear. The wall of defenses that hides the feelings of fear, insecurity, confusion, and loneliness are the hyperactive, funny, cute, clowning around behavior that gains them attention that they crave.”
Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, Author/Family Therapist
I didn’t ask to be a child mascot who would become a professional speaker who loves teaching QBQ! from the stage and is sometimes still tempted to measure the success of an engagement by how much the audience … laughs!?
#StillGrowing #NotArrived #WorkInProgress
I also didn’t ask to be raised in a home where shame and control were the dominant parenting principles, anger was the emotional undercurrent, and feelings were routinely denied.
I didn’t ask for any of that. And yet …
I. Am. No. Victim.
When I play victim, there is no learning, growth, or progress in my life.
Bottomline, if I want joy, peace, “success” (however I define it), prosperous relationships, and emotional, mental, and spiritual health, my Age of Accountability must come. When I no longer let my past hold me hostage and instead hold myself accountable for my thoughts, emotions, words, actions, and results—it will be a great day!
A day worthy of throwing a party.
How did your “family of origin” impact you?
In what ways have you struggled to break free?
Have you allowed your Age of Accountability to arrive?