Lately I have heard that responsibility is referred to as the ability to respond. I like that as it rings true in how we naturally respond to life, which can be very well observed with children.
Young children have a natural curiosity about and for life. They observe and put into practice what they have observed without questioning whether they like to do it or not. They also do not categorise into having something done well or as being wrong; they just do it again and again, bringing their all into the experience.
As adults we have unlearned this way of being and have been taught to calculate and reason. We have been taught that we have a choice to like something or not, to categorise into good and bad, important or not important and thus have also learned to prioritise.
Because we have made life more about reacting instead of responding, we do not see this ability in our children anymore and want them to act in the same way as we do and with that, interfere with their natural inclination of responsibility.
Children love to help and learn everything we do from when they are very little onwards. Instead of letting them help, we give them dolls or cars to play with and, for example, miniature kitchens to reenact what they have observed as we mostly do not have the patience and ‘time’ to work with them in whatever we are doing.
We also have the habit of saying, “They are young, let them be children,” meaning that they do not need to help and can go and play or do whatever they like. All the while we are denying them their natural understanding of responsibility they have and thus teaching them that there is no need to respond to what they feel is true, but can choose and pick according to their own liking. Very quickly we have little adults in our house that can perfectly do things they like to do but use the ’I-am-a-child’ card with things they do not like to do.
Responsibility is not a heavy burden. It is actually something innately ours as we are all connected with each other and connected with the universe and thus can feel what is needed for us all in any particular situation, just by this simple fact of connection. Because we have made life about our own desires and individuality, we have seemingly lost this way of responding to what is at hand and thus see responsibility as something we have to take on instead of feeling it as a natural way of being.
By Esther Andras, Flight Attendant, Delmenhorst, Germany