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October 28, 2012

Accountability Cop-Out

Hiding behind natural consequences

What it is

Lying about your role in a mistake your child made.  Parents cop-out by selectively hiding behind a natural consequence.

Why it's Important

Natural consequences prove to your child that he has power over cause and effect.  


Remembers homework – Good Grade

Forgets homework – Gets a Zero


A lot of seemingly credible people are telling—and selling—parents on the beauty of natural consequences.  


I agree, but . . .

The Problem

Natural consequences only work if you’ve taught your children how use the power of choice to either create or avoid a consequence. 


·        Yes, your child should remember his homework. 

·        Yes, feeling the sting that follows forgetting homework is a great thing. 

·        No, your child isn’t accountable for the zero if you’ve always remembered for her, but just forgot one day.   



Sure, you’ve told him to remember homework, but until you show him how you remain accountable.


Who is REALLY accountable for the zero?  YOU

Based on the usual way of things, it was reasonable for your child to expect you to remember the homework.


When you suddenly abandon your accountability

Your child feels abandoned

The Tip

Demonstrate Accountability

Three types of smaller questions can help you zero-in on the context of a situation before diving in.  

Step 1

Acknowledge Humanness

Yes, even you forget things from time-to-time. 

Step 2

Share Accountability

Absolve your child of responsibility, even if it means you have to phone the teacher and take the blame.


Parent to Child:  We share the responsibility for the homework because I usually remind you.  I’m obviously not as reliable as you need me to be.  Maybe it’s time you start to take over.

Step 3

Turn it Over

The Morning Peacemaker Method is a simple step-by-step plan that transitions your child into independence—with the help of ‘training wheels.’


Your Natural Consequences


Taking the heat shows your child that you are on her team—even when it’s uncomfortable.

Remember, to your child, that zero is a big deal.


Watching you acknowledge your perfection (to err is perfectly human) makes it easier for your child to risk being perfectly human, too.

Mistakes are very important!

Without his willingness to risk making mistakes, he won’t be able to learn from natural consequences.


Sharing the responsibility for a mistake starts the independence conversation.


To your child, your selflessness is an act of loyalty.  You’ve proven that she is more important than the mistake. 

Promise Kept

We promise to instill certain values, like honesty and reliability.  By demonstrating these values in action—even when it stings—you’re showing him how to face problems with integrity. 



Related Articles: Caution: Tripping Hazard, Your Human is Showing,

Related Tip of the Week: Recognize Perfection, Self Evaluate,


Peacemaker Coach Tip of the Week - Accountability Cop-Out

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