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We all struggle as parents with the need to protect our children—from the influences of peers, social media, and “voices” of all kinds that work counter to the values and character we want them to develop. Yet at the same time, we want them to become, gradually, the kind of mature individuals that can protect themselves and find their own way.

Interestingly, the most lasting protection is to teach our children Responsibility, and having that as a conscious parenting goal is the key to so much! Even as very small children in our homes, kids can begin to learn to be responsible for their things, then for small tasks, then for decisions and choices and then for the needs of others. And as they progressively learn these forms of responsibility, the byproduct is that they become more able to protect themselves from attitudes and habits and practices that can harm them and undermine their development.

One way of saying it is that parents need to move from the defense of thinking about protecting their kids to the offense of thinking about how to teach them responsibility.

We have been thinking about that for quite a long time, ever since we wrote our landmark book “Teaching Children Responsibility” nearly four decades ago. We know this for sure: The more parents think about it, the better they will do at it. For more ideas on clearly and thoroughly teaching your kids responsibility:

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