Responsibility is a funny word, and it brings with it many different feelings in many people. To teenagers, it likely looks like the most frightening word there is. To adults or even the elderly, it looks like a daily accepted reality. Responsibility is what makes life meaningful, and as you get older it is heaped on you in no small amount. However, it needn’t strangle you. If you maintain yourself and your stress well, gaining responsibility will shape your character for the better.
But how do you become more responsible, and what does that mean to you? Well, for a large majority of people who are asked what their responsibility is ideally directed towards, many people will say ‘family.’ Helping out or looking after a family member is responsibility in loving action, to the point where carrying it out might not even feel like a sacrifice in itself.
That is a lucky feeling to have, because as you get older, your familial responsibility shifts onto you. Parents who get old and are less capable to help you slowly become in need of help. Children who slowly turn to adults need less physical maintenance from you and more spiritual and intellectual guidance. Your spouse largely goes through their own career issues and a functioning marriage will mean both people have to serve as the bedrock of support.
This is a lot of responsibility to take on, and it can seem frightening at first. All of a sudden you might wake up one morning and realize that you are the most capable ‘authoritative’ member in your extended family unit. Many people still feel like a young adult in their mind, no older than in their early 20’s, so being told that you have now fulfilled the shoes of your parent can be a hard pill to swallow, at least initially. But it needn’t remain this way. As mentioned before, it can imbue your life with meaning.
Follow these tips to become even better in this new role you find yourself in.
Being a stable cornerstone of the family unit doesn’t give you the right to dish out authoritative advice to everyone in the family. Of course, you can provide strong guidance and heavy encouragement or discouragement, such as convincing your nephew to just try that one last time at passing his law exam before he gives up.
However, you should realize that your family unit is a shifting, dynamic entity, filled with many variant personalities that need to walk their own path. The beautiful part of a family unit is that it consists of a group of different people who all share the love of the unit, even if they have slightly different values or tastes. Shower your respect on your family members, even if you don’t fully approve of their choices. Of course, if these choices are harming themselves or others, that is another consideration entirely. But a career change, a marriage change, or moving to a foreign country should never be impeded by you as the family head.
Giving your presence to all problems is probably going to be forced on you from now on. If a relative is ill, it’s likely that you will be called to offer advice and help out. This can take a toll on your schedule and finances, so be sure to be flexible.
You don’t have to attend every family emergency depending on its seriousness, but you should make an effort to do what you can. For example, if lacking funds to help cater for a family member while they are ill or staying with you, taking out alternative finance methods could be worth it in the immediate moment. Staying the cornerstone of the family unit is an exercise in staying reactive and open to situations as they arise. To fuel this, you might need to dip into your rainy day fund. Try and build an amount of savings that can be applied to these issues to help you smoothly get through them.
As the head of an extended family unit, it might be worth trying to defer some of that responsibility onto other shoulders. For example, if your parent recently passed away, delegating some of the responsibility to one of your siblings to the funeral effort will not make you any less competent in your role.
It means that you bring the family together, and make sure that everyone has each other’s back. Call regular family meetings and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to large life events, such as throwing anniversary parties or getting your child baptized. A tight family unit should always be there for one another, and willing to help out with each others problems.