Twenty-five years ago, I thought being responsible meant rewinding the video cassette before returning it on time, keeping track of my pass for the neighborhood pool where they blared C+C Music Factory and Boyz II Men over the loudspeaker, cleaning my room (or at least picking up things from the floor) and completing my homework before the due date.
When I think about what responsibility means to me, some things haven’t changed. My responsibilities do still include knowing where things are, even if they’re more important than a pool pass, and keeping the house in some semblance of order, though I’m still not as great at cleaning as I should be.
It’s safe to say that my idea of responsibility has expanded a bit. Marriage and mortgage payments can do that for you. But I think that having my daughter is what so profoundly changed my perception of responsibility. Never before had I been completely responsible for someone.
I remember when she was an infant that making it from one day to the next and keeping her safe and alive felt like an accomplishment. Little did I know that the responsibilities would become greater.
My idea of responsibility changed even today, when I dropped her off for her first high school event. My baby girl auditioned for and made the pom team last week and the first meeting was today. Watching her walk into the high school solo made me question whether I’ve given her all the knowledge and skills and confidence she needs to succeed in this brand new environment that seems so very much more grown up.
Twenty-five years ago, I was just one year older than she is now. I remember being so excited to get to attend Prom for the first time. My parents weren’t thrilled with me going as a freshman but made it clear that if I was old enough to attend, I was responsible for my behavior. They made it crystal clear that I could drink, but only when I was of legal age to do so, and that was a long, long way off. It was also apparent that irresponsible behavior, such as the consumption of alcohol, would result in unpleasant consequences.
I don’t know that I saw not drinking as a matter of responsibility, or just a matter of enjoying life as I knew it and avoiding said consequences and punishments.
Today, though, I talk with my daughter who is literally on the threshold of high school about what responsibility means, to her and to me. April is Alcohol Responsibility Month, and it’s a great reason to keep that conversation going. It’s also the month in which Responsiblity.org celebrates its 25th anniversary. One way they are marking the occasion is the Starts with Me campaign. It encourages talking about what personal responsibility is, and a great way to start the conversation is with this video.
One thing I’ve learned about responsible parenting is that I need to know how to reach my kid on her level, and I’ve learned that watching videos like this is more interesting and effective than just talking to me.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t talk. We definitely do. I want my daughter to know that I am among the 68 percent of people who believe it is everyone’s own personal responsibility to address the harmful consumption of alcohol. I also want her to know that other kids are making good choices about alcohol. Underage drinking down 63 percent over the past 25 years.
That’s a huge success, and I’m grateful for organizations like Responsibility.org helping parents, teachers, and kids. and thrilled to be partnering with them this year to add my voice to the discussion of responsibility.
Don’t miss a post! Please subscribe to Between Us Parents’ completely safe, spam-free email list in the box in the top right corner of the page!