Lack of Parental Accountability is a Quintessential Leadership Problem

Posted: November 20, 2021 in Quintessential Leadership
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The local and national news is full of stories about children killing and being killed. When I read stories about young teens being KyleRittenhouse-quintessential-leaderhit by a car when they’re outside walking in the wee hours of the morning or about teenagers being shot in cars or at parties on school nights between 1 am and 5 am, I shake my head and ask myself, “Where are their parents?” When I read stories about children as young as elementary school age beating or killing – with knives or guns – other people, I also shake my head and ask myself, “Where are their parents?”

The actions of Kyle Rittenhouse bring that question to my lips again. It’s the question nobody else seems to be asking. Or even care about.

What was a 17-year-old doing with an assault weapon and why was he going out to “protect” an automobile dealership at night in the middle of a protest? Is this normal behavior for a teenager? I know when I was 17 years old, doing something like this would have never crossed my mind.

It’s interesting to see parents like Rittenhouse’s get all up in arms after the fact, but nobody ever considers the question of “Where were they before the fact?” Accountable parents would have done several things to prevent what took place that night.

The first thing that accountable parents would have done is teach their child, from the time he was able to understand, that he could not take the law into his own hands. By going to “protect” an automobile dealership, Rittenhouse was taking into his hands the responsibility that rightfully belongs to law enforcement.

Rittenhouse’s acquittal on November 19, 2021, sends a very dangerous message: everyone of every age now has the right to arm themselves and take the law into their own hands. Vigilante justice has just been sanctioned for children and adults.

The second thing that accountable parents would have done is to make sure that their child was engaged in positive and age-appropriate activities as he matured. Putting assault weapons into the hands of children and allowing them to become proficient at using them is not positive or age-appropriate.

The third thing that accountable parents would have done since their child was still living at home, is to have imposed restrictions that were for his own good. This would have included knowing what he was doing and where he was at all times (Rittenhouse could have been killed himself). It would have also included knowing who his friends were and establishing curfews and other boundaries that would keep him safe.

Rittenhouse’s parents seem to have just let their son do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted with absolutely no oversight or control. When parents do this, they are not doing their children any favors. Children who grow up with unaccountable parents become unaccountable adults. They reject authority and they expect society to give the same freewheeling latitude of freedom that their parents did.

That doesn’t work in institutions like schools and workplaces, where structure and boundaries are necessary to accomplish goals or missions. Perhaps that is why Rittenhouse dropped out of high school and apparently never held a job.

When parents aren’t accountable for their children and they let them raise themselves however they want, they have failed at the job they were given when they brought those children into the world. Yet, these same parents give emotional statements (sometimes excusing wrong actions and behavior) when something happens to their children because they were at some place, at some time, doing something they should not have been. That’s a paradox that few people see.

For example, a 13-year-old boy was walking on a major thoroughfare at 2 a.m. and was struck and killed by a car. His parents emotionally pleaded for justice against the driver of the vehicle. But, nobody asked them why their 13-year-old son was out walking along a busy road at 2 a.m. They were not being accountable parents, but they wanted the driver of the car that hit and killed their son to be held accountable for her actions.

Accountable parents are practicing quintessential leadership. Parents who are not accountable for their children are practicing unquintessential leadership. Accountable parents raise accountable adults. Unaccountable parents raise unaccountable adults.

Our society seems to be filled with unaccountable people. You can trace that back to parents who abrogated their responsibility to be accountable for their children. This is one of the reasons why there is such a staggering increase in violence, crime, lack of morality, and lack of remorse among society today.

Kyle Rittenhouse may have been acquitted in a court of law by a jury of his peers, but he is still guilty of murder and his parents are still guilty of not being accountable for him. Nothing changes that.

As always, though, if we’re parents of children, we need to look in the mirror at ourselves. Are we practicing quintessential leadership by being accountable for our children? Do we make them take responsibility for their wrong actions and behavior, refusing to condone or excuse it, even if it has negative consequences that may follow our children for the rest of their lives?

Or do we practice unquintessential leadership by not being accountable for our children? Do we excuse or condone their wrong behavior, going to great lengths to ensure they don’t have any negative consequences from it?

Only you can answer these questions. How are we doing?

  1. mepeep says:

    Insightful article! This traces unaccountability back to its roots: the parents. Vigilantism is a growing force in America, with tragic results, and it needs to be consistently and forcefully condemned. This was a clear-eyed take on what happens when that responsibility is abandoned.


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