Jackson Five Friday: Raising Responsible Kids

This week my oldest son, Will, turned thirteen, and one of my friends made the comment that he’s such a responsible kid. That made me laugh.

He’s so responsible that when he was three he got tired of us arriving somewhere to buy something or eat something only to discover that I’d forgotten my wallet…AGAIN. Or my cell phone.

This enterprising toddler problem solved. He began consistently asking while we were still in the garage, “Do you have your wallet? Do you have your cell phone?”

By the time he was six he insisted on pushing the cart at Costco. “I can do it, Mom. I like to help,” he’d say.

A few months ago we had Will babysit Sam. Unfortunately even though we were just picking up carry-out and running a few quick errands, Sam had a coughing fit and threw up right after we left.

When Will called I hit accept with an “oh brother” mindset. But I should’ve known better.

“Mom,” he said, “Sam’s fine and there’s no need to come home but I wanted to let you know that he threw up.”

Then tonight he came with me to take Nate to swim practice. I dropped them off and had to park a good distance away because of a football game going on at the same high school.

After I finally found a spot and was walking toward the pool my phone rang.

“Hey, Mom,” he said, “you alright?”

Yeah, he’s responsible alright. Unbelievably responsible and I’m pretty sure I have zero to do with it. It’s his nature and it’s by God’s grace for sure. I’ve done only two things that might have helped a teensy tiny bit: honor and praise his initiative to take responsibility.

I always feel compelled when I write so glowingly about my children to affirm that they are human and therefore imperfect and fully capable of disrespect and ingratitude and every vice.  But it is still true that, most of the time, this young man of mine wants to take good care of me.

Even though Peter infamously denied even knowing Jesus three times, after the resurrection Jesus and Peter had a redemptive conversation one morning on the beach.  I’d recommend reading the whole thing here.

But one time when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

Being responsible means lots of things — from remembering homework to taking initiative to clean up around the house.  But one thing we may not often think about is how taking care of others is also a wonderful manifestation of being responsible and expressing our love.

I am so grateful that my son has this character trait, that he so reliably loves his mama in this way.

Lord Jesus, help me to encourage this “taking care of sheep” sweetness in my son.  Thank you for giving him a kind and concerned heart.  Help me to guide Him with wisdom and love and to never take him for granted.  In Jesus Name, Amen. 

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