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Character Matters
July 1, 2009
Character Trait – Responsible:
Check It Out. – What Does It Matter? – How Does it Count?

responsible, adj. (based on Latin for requiring an answer from)
  1. expected or obligated to account for something, to someone; answerable, accountable;
  2. involving accountability, obligation, or duties;
  3. able to distinguish between right and wrong and to think and act rationally, and hence accountable for one's behavior;
  4. trustworthy; dependable; reliable; as in able to pay debts or meet business obligations.
    (Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, second edition.)
As homeschooling parents, we are taking the primary responsibility for our children's education. From the definition above, we can see that this responsibility involves a promise of commitment. There's a sense of being consistent and constant until the commitment is fulfilled.

By taking on this commitment to homeschool your children, you are giving them an object lesson in responsibility. You are modeling how to approach a task (definitions #2 and #4).

When you evaluate activities and programs based on your stated purpose and vision, you are showing your children how to act rationally based on a way of thinking or view of education (definition #3). You are showing them how to be accountable to something beyond just a passing fad or peer pressure. Even if that peer pressure is self-imposed by comparing yourself with what another homeschooling family is doing.

When you spend time in prayer and reflection, seeking direction from the Father for the coming year, you display submission to a higher authority (definition #1). You show your children that we are all answerable and accountable for our actions all the days of our lives. They can see that it is not an obligation met out of grudging duty, but from a sense of thankfulness for the grace to do so.

When instilling values and developing character, we shouldn't assume that our children automatically make the connections. Consider using your planning time this summer as a “teachable moment,” actually explaining to your children what you are doing and why. Let them have some input, with the understanding that as the parents you have “veto power” over any suggestions made.

If you have older children, summer is often a time when they are doing special chores for hire, doing odd jobs around the neighborhood for money, or maybe even getting a job. Career counselors often have students assess their work skills to help them choose the right types of jobs. Here's what one survey lists under Responsibility. Have your students look up each word in a dictionary and then rate their skills against this list. Then discuss what can be done to improve any areas that appear weak.
initiative diligence resourcefulness
thoroughness decisiveness thoughtfulness (thinking through consequences)
industrious punctuality neatness/orderliness
By taking the responsibility for homeschooling your children rather than surrendering them to others, you are offering your children a powerful visual of caring for others - that something can be so important to you that you are willing to make sacrifices. You're showing them that it is not just about “me-me-me” but about stewardship.

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