Friday, April 18, 2008

Where Does Responsibility Lie?

A conversation this morning has left me mulling that over all day. I am open to any and all suggestions from anyone with an opinion. Let me try to explain.

None of us come from perfect families. If yours is anything like mine, there is always something going on with one relative or the other. You never really know where the next “event” is coming from. Often it's under your own roof. That's just part of being in a family. But every now and then something happens that makes you wonder if you should have done more. Should you have reached in where you weren't invited? Should you have made offers to help even though no help was requested? Should you have done so at the risk of inconveniencing or even damaging your own family? When do you draw the line and say, “No, they are just going to have to deal with that on their own.”

We have had a total of four different people live in our house since we got married. People who weren't part of our immediate family. People whom we may or may not have been related to, but needed either a place to launch safely from or a place to call home for awhile. Three of them lived with us before we had children. One came right in the middle of the kids.

These situations were all difficult in their own ways, but each was also quite wonderful in their own ways. But we have only had the four. Why did we not offer to have five? And if the fifth takes a path that could possibly have been avoided, do we carry any of the responsibility because we did not offer help this time? Where does our responsibility lie? While we are not responsible for giving this person life, as family members, are we in some way responsible for how his life plays out and what we did or didn't do to change that in any positive way?

It is easy to watch from the sidelines and say how things could have been done differently on everyone's part. I know I have my judgments. I know others have theirs. But I guess what I'm asking is, bottom line, how much responsibility to you take for how those close to you raise their children and how those then “adult” child decide to live their lives?


WendyDarling said...

Well, as one who has also "taken in" extended family members allow me to chime in. :-)

When it comes to the young ones, I have taken in two. My nephew, of course, and a cousin who was in high school at the time. My nephew I will nephew regret taking in, and of course the children can not help themselves.

The older ones and adults, are old enough to take responsibility for their actions. My cousin was allowed to live with me as long as she followed the rules.

We have allowed adult relatives live with us for short periods of time, but when their irresponsibility started affecting the nephew negatively they were politely asked to leave. (Which they were told would happen in advance of moving in)

You cannot take on the "guilt" or responsibility of an adult for their choices. You can only help as much as you can, but the ultimate responsibility lies with them. Also, God gave you your children as your responsibility. When negative influences come into their lives it is responsibility to shield them/protect from that. By not allowing those people in your home you are doing your job as a parent.

I hope that helped... :-)

WendyDarling said...

OOPS!! That should read NEVER regret. Sorry...