Please Excuse Me
Does your daughter seem to have an excuse for everything? For why the dishes are still in the sink, why her room is still a disaster zone and why her homework isn’t finished? If so, you’re not alone. But she’s not alone in her behavior, either.
For many of us, myself included, making excuses has become second nature. Sure, we’ve all failed to meet an important deadline once or twice. We’re all guilty of missing an appointment because it just didn’t make it on the calendar. And everyone skips a workout every now and then… right? So, do we ultimately own up and accept responsibility for our own choices? Not usually. Instead, we throw out one of any number of excuses to save ourselves from actually owning up.
At first glance, this may seem like a harmless tactic to keep from despairing over minor missteps. But over time, excuse making becomes a dangerous and ugly habit that often keeps us from reaching our highest potential. Denial is easy because quite often those excuses are actually rooted in truth—we are indeed incredibly busy, overextended and overworked. But when was the last time that making an excuse brought any of us closer to what we truly want?
By allowing ourselves– and our girls– to make excuses, we are choosing to lower our standards for ourselves—and therefore we must lower our expectations for others. Instead, if we refuse to make excuses and embrace responsibility by living up to our promises and obligations, we ultimately reap significant rewards like respect and trust from others. And in turn, we feel safe relying on and delegating to others.
Additional benefits of taking 100% responsibility include greater self-respect, pride, and confidence. Doesn’t every girl want more of those?! Winston Churchill said it best: “Responsibility is the price of greatness.” The minute we choose to accept where we’ve contributed to a problem, or even created it entirely, that is the precise moment in which we free ourselves up to finding solutions instead of finding excuses.
So how can you support your girl in taking responsibility today? First, model this behavior yourself. When you make a mistake, own it. Second, explain to your daughter that although making excuses is easy in the moment, it has some gnarly consequences on the back end. Encourage her to acknowledge when she makes an excuse by communicating with someone she trusts. Saying the words out loud helps to make it real, instead of just brushing it off in our minds or minimizing the behavior. Mistakes provide an incredible springboard for positive change, so frame them as fertile learning soil!
And, for a little extra inspiration, let this be your mantra:
Don’t make excuses, make good. Don’t find an excuse, find a way.