A Lesson In Responsibility
At a recent family gathering, my 11-yr old son was playing basketball with his older cousin. Never one to shy away from competition, he ignored the fact that he is significantly shorter than his cousin, and played with the same intensity that he would against his peers. The basketball hoop is mounted on the side of an old garage with sliding doors containing small panes of glass.
In his effort to compete against his cousin, he accidentally ended up breaking one of the panes of glass. To his credit, he was very remorseful and guilty and offered to pay for the repair with his own money. Rather than accept my son’s money, his grandfather said that he could come over the next day, go with him to the local glass place to pick up a replacement pane and then help him install it.
On the final day of Spring Break, the last thing that he wanted to do was any kind of manual labor, but he knew that we weren’t going to let him simply pay for the glass and let his grandfather do the work by himself.
We dropped him off in the morning, and told him that we would come and pick him up as soon as he was finished. It turned out the job was fairly routine and very inexpensive. He could have had most of the day to spend how he pleased, but he chose to stay and help his grandfather out with some other chores. He went above and beyond to help his grandfather, and talked about the heavy lifting that he did during the day with great pride.
The previous day, my son was upset about having to go back and help fix the glass that he broke. Though paying for the repair would have still shown that he was taking responsibility for his actions, taking the time to go and help with the repair provided a valuable life lesson. He learned that money is not always the solution to a problem. And though he complained initially, the truth of the matter is that he loves spending one-on-one time with his grandfather, so deep down, he probably didn’t mind helping out too much.
When I picked him up in the afternoon, my son and I had to run a few errands for my wife. At the supermarket, he thumbed through the magazines while I went to the register. One basketball magazine, in particular, caught his eye. Since he did more than his fair share of work with his grandfather, I decided to buy him the magazine as recognition for a job well-done, a gesture that he greatly appreciated. After handing him the magazine, I reminded him that no one was ever angry about the accidental broken glass. We simply wanted him to learn that there are times in life when actions speak louder than money.
Written by Adam Waldman