Why Being Accountable Makes You a Better Parent

How to be better parents? When we are held accountable for a job or position we’ve opted to take on we are being serious and committed. Parenting is beyond doubt a job where being accountable can pay off in big ways.

Definition: Obligation or willingness to accept responsibility; taking into account one’s actions; answerability.

Brene Brown elaborates further: Accountability is often motivated by wanting to live in alignment with our values. Accountability is holding ourselves or someone else responsible for specific actions and their specific consequences.

To apply this concept, one would have to have conscious values regarding parenting. If you haven’t brought them up to your awareness, it may be helpful to sort through the following questions. Answer them as honestly as possible.

  1. What are your beliefs about spanking?
  2. How do you handle your child’s melt down?
  3. Do you expect your child to always mind you?
  4. Do you feel it is important to always keep your child entertained?
  5. Do you believe that people are judging you as a bad parent when your child misbehaves in public?
  6. Do you believe your child should always be in control of himself or herself?
  7. Can you observe your child struggling with something without intervening?
  8. Do you encourage your child to express his/her feelings?
  9. Is it important that your child be an active family member? (ie. Contributes by doing chores)
  10. Do you believe it is important to have one on one quality time with each child?

Hopefully these questions have helped you sort through what you may be expecting from yourself and your child. Having reasonable expectations is one way that we can remove some of the stresses of parenting young children.

When it comes to accountability, consider the following example. If you are a parent who is opposed to spankings but resorts to them when tension builds up, you are probably feeling out of alignment with your values.

When that happens our own sense of self suffers and you may begin to feel guilt. The feeling of guilt can guide us back on track if we can own the problematic behavior.  If you judge yourself harshly, you may even feel shame for your behavior. This is the sense that you personally are the problem. That you are not good enough. This adds to your stress and so you may also end up blaming the child for your actions.

“If you would just listen to me when I tell you to stop, this wouldn’t have happened!”

If the pattern escalates further, the parent may even try shaming the child to gain control of the situation.

“You are a terrible child. You never listen!”

The blame and shame cycle often takes one deeper into feelings of powerlessness and self loathing.

Being accountable stops the blame. We often blame when we are feeling those awful pangs of shame. Being accountable moves us out of that cycle.

Brene Brown continues; “Accountability is a prerequisite for strong relationships and cultures. It requires authenticity, action and courage to apologize and make amends. It also requires vulnerability.”

Don’t mistake your vulnerability for weakness. It takes strength to approach a child and admit to mishandling the situation. Accountable parents are authentic in that they are not posing as infallible authorities who can never do wrong.  Their ability to admit wrongdoing comes from a place of strength and offers a powerful model to the child.

When children learn that “mistakes are teachers” there is a greater chance for them to develop resilience through the challenges of life.

When we hold ourselves accountable, we accept responsibility for our choices, our actions and the impact they have on others. When we mess up, and most of us will, it is wise to own the problem and work toward reconciliation.

As a parent it is important to separate the deed from the child.

“I don’t like that you hit your sister” rather than “You are a mean boy for hitting her!”

When it comes to our behavior as adults it is also helpful to apply the same maxim. Dislike the mistake you made but don’t beat yourself up. Instead make amends and learn from your mistakes.

About The Author

Lois Olson

Founder of The Montessori Children's House Inc. Laramie, Wyoming Montessori Primary Certification 1973
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting facilitator certification
Thirty eight years of experience working with children ages 3-6
Twenty five years facilitating parenting groups
Ten years facilitating teacher training
B.A In Psychology