Raising Accountable Children
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
“Happiness is the result of right living,” the result of making the right choices, not a substitute for them, says Cochrane writer/speaker David Irvine in his latest book, Raising Accountable Children: Citizenship in an Age of Entitlement.
David was quoting his mother, Joyce Irvine, mentor and guide to many people in Cochrane and beyond.
She was responding to a question David had posed of her not long before her death about what her goal was for raising her children. “I wanted three things for you,” she answered. “I wanted you to know the value of hard work. I wanted you to be a person of strong faith, and I wanted service to others to be more important than your own selfish interests.”
“But didn’t you want us to be happy?” David asked.
“Sure, I did,” she answered, “but it wasn’t my job to get you there. Happiness is the result of right living. I knew you would get there if you made the right choices.”
For Joyce, prioritizing happiness “over values like character, resiliency, and accountability” was the easy way out, David writes. It didn’t trouble his parents how applying discipline might impact on “our self-esteem when they sent us to our room…. It was okay for us to be unhappy because happiness was not the goal.”
As parents who themselves had lived through hard times, they “understood that hardships and unhappiness were a part of a life worth living. Sacrifices during hard times were what built strong character and subsequent resiliency.”
And this is all about accountability – “the ability to be counted on,” says David, a longtime family therapist, parent and grandparent, who is all too aware of how “anxiety, depression, and myriad forms of mental illness continue to be at an all-time high in this society.”
Accountability lies at the very heart of inherent worth. And “this is essentially my reason for writing this book – to support parents and those who work and live with children – to know their inherent worth, and to convey this into the hearts of the young people in their lives.” Only then does true happiness follow.
David notes four capabilities that make up accountability: (1) the ability to be counted on; (2) the willingness to take ownership; (3) the ability to face the demands of life; and (4) the choice of service over self-interest – “If we aren’t raising young people today with a commitment to make the world a better place through their unique contributions, we have failed this generation.”
Drawing on over 40 years of research and observation, he has “found that three fundamental needs must be met in order to move a child into these four capabilities of accountability”: (1) the need for connection, (2) the need to feel that they make a contribution, and (3) the need to feel that they have power over their life and can face and deal capably with challenges.
Raising Accountable Children offers strategies for meeting these needs. This short book abounds in the kind of wisdom any successful gardener understands well. “Accountable parenting is about learning to love,” David says, “and then spending the rest of our lives letting go.”
To order your copy, visit davidirvine.com/shop.
© 2020 Warren Harbeck