Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


Parenting is a remarkable journey of nurturing and shaping our teenagers into capable and confident individuals. As we embark on this voyage, one of the paramount leadership skills we must teach to our teens is the art of taking personal responsibility. This ability lays the foundation for them to become accountable, resilient, and empowered individuals, traits that are indispensable for effective leadership. Teaching personal responsibility falls to us, the parents, both to discuss the meaning and to role model the behavior.

At the heart of personal responsibility lies the ability to take ownership of one’s actions, decisions, and goals. This journey begins with introspection—helping our teens understand their own values and what truly matters to them. By encouraging them to understand their core beliefs and aspirations, we enable them to create a personal mission statement. This statement acts as a compass, guiding them toward a clear understanding of the path they wish to pursue, and subsequently, the goals they wish to achieve.

Goals are the first part of learning personal responsibility. Goals provide a roadmap for teens to make informed decisions and stay committed to their journey. As parents, we play a pivotal role in nurturing leadership by teaching the skill of goal setting. Engage in open discussions about setting short-term and long-term goals. Encourage your teens to identify the steps required to reach those goals, teaching them that success is often a result of incremental progress and consistent effort. The best method is that of the SMART goal. A goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and has a time specific.

As parents, our actions speak volumes. Share your own experiences of setting and working towards goals. Sit down with your teen, create your own goals, discuss the challenges you may face with your goals and how you can overcome them. This establishes a connection built on shared experiences but also illustrates the perseverance and commitment required to achieve goals. Be each other’s accountability partner where you meet once a week and discuss your work towards your goal and what if any challenges you are working on. This allows your teen to discuss their challenges and for you to help them build problem solving skills.

A crucial part of personal responsibility is integrity, doing the right thing even when no one else is watching. Teens often make impulsive decisions and a struggle to delay gratification. At times, our teens might find themselves tempted to veer from the path of integrity and in fact make an impulsive choice. This is where our role as parents becomes interesting, challenging and well frustrating. Openly acknowledge that mistakes are part of growing up. Let your teen know that we all struggle with not doing the right thing every time. It is what we do to correct the decision that is important. This creates a learning opportunity on empathy, communication and being humble. Not a bad learning opportunity. As a parent we must make sure our teen takes responsibility for their actions and learn from their experiences. However, equally vital is our responsibility as parents to model this behavior. Teens watch us, and despite the eye-rolling, tend to act like us.

As we navigate the tumultuous teen years of parenting, our mission becomes clear: to equip our teens with the skills that will serve them well beyond their formative years. Teaching personal responsibility is more than simply teaching your teen to own up to their actions. It’s about empowering them to be the architects of their lives, to take charge of their decisions, and to be the author of their own story. Teaching personal responsibility goes beyond mere words—it’s about showing our teens through our own actions. Engage in conversations about what personal responsibility means and illustrate how you, as a parent, navigate the landscape of accountability in both your personal and professional life.

In a world where leadership is as much about leading oneself as it is about leading others, personal responsibility stands as a beacon of strength. By instilling this skill within our teens, we’re laying the groundwork for them to navigate challenges, to foster resilience, and to lead with integrity. Let’s seize this opportunity, as parents and mentors, to mold the leaders of tomorrow who not only excel in their pursuits but also inspire others to do the same.