My father was a stern disclipiniarian. Yet he was a loving, caring man who took exceptional care of his family. In contrast to what is happening today in reference to the question Whose fault is it? there was never any doubt in our family. It was usually our own. He taught this lesson well many times but one day in particular brought the childhood lesson I hope I always remember.
In my family, I am known for not paying attention to what is going on around me. I have walked into parking meters, missed curbs when walking, fallen numerous times and bumped into people or things because I just wasn't looking. On this particular day, I was walking and reading, fell over something on the sidewalk and broke my glasses. In those days, glasses were made out of glass and they broke easily. My forehead had a large cut and my glasses were smashed.
Daddy saw me running home, noticed the blood and knelt down to check out the wound. Not as serious as it appeared because head wounds bleed a lot. I was furious. How could this have happened to me? Screaming in anger, I poured out my outrage. Daddy looked at me and said, "The big bad sidewalk came up and hit you in the face?"
He was known for his use of humor to diffuse situations. This one had a point. Of course the sidewalk couldn't come up and hit me in the face! "Then could it be your fault?" he asked.
Well, today as a teacher I see a trend which is exactly the opposite of this. When a student is in a fight at school, the parents often want to know what the other person did and what punishment they received. When students go home in trouble from school, it can be the teacher who is in trouble because parents might not require the student to accept responsibility for thier own behavior. This change in societies way of developing responsibility is one which has brought situations where criminals aren't responsible for their behavior because of childhood circumstances, being burned by putting a hot cup of coffee in your lap becomes the fault of the vendor or lawsuits are filed when people ignore warnings.
So often I think of my father's question: Did the big, bad sidewalk come up and hit you in the face?
Unfortunately, I have also see this in the generation of students I have. Thank goodness there are still those parents and students who realize that our choices also have consequences and when we pick up one end of a stick, the other automatically comes, as well. We all have our agency, but with it comes the responsibility to take the consequences--good or bad. Great story! Keep them coming.
Sounds like a very wise father. I was raised the same way; take responsibility for your actions and problems, and you are always in control and empowered to solve them. Thanks for sharing it with us.