Responsibility vs. unreliability

Knowing and doing what is expected of me.

A responsible person does not wait for a “to do” list. Responsibility is knowing within one’s self what needs to be done and carrying these duties out.

Louisa May Alcott, best known for her book Little Women, grew up in an extremely poor family. Louisa’s father avoided regular work and some considered him a ne’er-do-well while others esteemed him an unappreciated genius. Yet Louisa formed what she deemed to be the course for her life amid her family’s struggles.

Louisa May Alcott was determined to become a published writer, but there was more behind her spirit than a thirst to see her name in print. Louisa was driven by a sense of responsibility for her family. She determined to see to it that her parents would be provided for in old age, and that her sisters would receive the clothing and education they needed. In short, Louisa was motivated to develop her talents out of responsibility for her family.

At 16, Louisa published her first story in a Boston magazine and earned $5. She continued to write for magazines. Six years later, she compiled several stories into her first book, Flower Fables. Her reputation — and income — as an author slowly began to blossom. Louisa became independently wealthy but never lost her sense of responsibility for her family. To their dying days, she honored and cared for her parents, and late in her own life, she adopted the orphaned daughter of one of her sisters. Louisa May Alcott’s life is a testimony to responsibility.

As a sister, daughter, aunt and citizen — in each of her roles, she had incumbent responsibilities to fulfill. She dedicated herself to their performance. Responsibility is knowing, owning and accepting the duties that accompany one’s roles in life, whether spoken or unspoken, voluntary or obligatory. Responsible efforts do what needs to be done because it is right; trusting that in the long run good character always yields the best results.

Children are very good at remembering anything you may have told them you would do or allow them to do. Set a good example of responsibility by fulfilling the commitments you have made to your children. Avoid making promises that you will not be able to keep.

Brought to you by the Four Corners Character Council. Character First! definitions and information used by permission. © Character Training Institute

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