Teach Your Child to Own Up to an Accident

In Blog, Family, Practical Help, Resources by Shannon CochranLeave a Comment

A Horrible Question to Ask

In her own words, “This is a horrible question to ask.” That’s how she prefaced her next comment in our text thread.

What was my neighbor about to ask?

“I was just in our backyard, and there is a LOT of large dog poop all over the ground near our trampoline. Looks like it was thrown. Did you happen to see who might have pulled this lovely prank?”

Instantly, my throat tightened and a heaviness sunk down into my core. While I hadn’t seen any pranksters milling around our property, I knew my son had poop scooped our yard that afternoon. It’s his job. He gets paid for it. Typically his work betters our backyard and community.

Did I mention we have two LARGE dogs? Cheyenne and Sierra, our mother and daughter Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, definitely leave a LARGE trace in the backyard. There’s no way my neighbor’s little Westie–the one whose, ahem, movements get picked up each time after she marks her territory–could have so LARGELY “marked” her yard.

Especially the trampoline.

Connecting the dots, I could think of no other explanation for the heaps of dog poo my neighbor (unfortunately) found.

I couldn’t ignore my neighbor’s text. I didn’t deny the high likelihood of my son’s culpability. Shooting up a quick arrow prayer to the Lord asking for His wisdom and the right words, I questioned my son, “Do you have any idea why there is LARGE dog poop on our neighbor’s trampoline?”

His eyes were saucers. “Um . . . well I may not have been sooo accurate when I threw it over the corner of the fence,” he gulped.

Mercy! I had heard enough. “There’s no excuse. We don’t throw poop. Come on. It’s time to go over to the neighbor’s house to apologize and clean up poop.”

 A Horrible Idea to Answer

“Go get the poop scooper and the broom. I’ll get the paper towels, trash can, and disinfecting spray.”

He wondered why we needed these.

“If we make a mess, we clean it up. If we make a mistake, we own up to it. We take responsibility. And we learn a valuable lesson when we deal with our poop. It’s hard to grow up, but we must.”

Still in denial he questioned, “Where are we going?”

“To our neighbor’s house. Get the poop scooper and broom now. I’ll meet you in the front yard.”

Yes, he whined. He moaned. He groaned. He listed five reasons why he should NOT have to do this. He didn’t hesitate to tell me this was  a “horrible” idea.

“Yes, it’s a horrible idea not to teach you this lesson. Get the poop scooper and broom. Meet me outside.”

He did. Reluctantly, we walked to my neighbor’s front door discussing God’s view of humility.

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble'” (1 Peter 5:5).

 A Not-So Horrible Experience 

Graciously, my neighbor accepted my son’s apology. She commended him for facing the issue and gave us permission to enter her backyard. Kindly, my neighbor even told my son a story of when she was a little girl and made a bad decision. We all seemed to feel my son’s sigh of relief.

Twenty minutes later my son rang our neighbor’s doorbell again. “I think I’m finished cleaning up the mess I made in your backyard. Do you want to check and see if you approve?”

My son learned an important life lesson about taking responsibility. About facing the consequence for his bad decision. What began and continued to be perceived as a “horrible” question and “horrible” idea, turned out better than he had feared, much to his relief.

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Mom-to-mom, do you agree? A humbling experience (like de-pooping a trampoline till the neighbor approves) is not-so “horrible” if it does a boy good!

Share in the comments: What is one area that your child could benefit by learning a lesson in responsibility?

Ask God for the wisdom and words you need to confront him gently. Pray he will respond with humility and experience God’s grace for sinners. Commit to teach him/her a horribly valuable life lesson this week.

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