lightning strikes

Responsibility vs Responsible Decision Making

I recently received an email from my child’s high school. 

Part of the email read, “Responsible decision making is defined as the ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.” 

I felt compelled to look it up, as so much attention as been placed on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  From CASEL:  “Responsible decision-making: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.”(

How does this compare to Responsibility?
My immediate reaction was that this is a classic example of “being responsible” vs “taking responsibility”. While they may appear to be the same thing, they are not. We are taught from time we are little (and I fell into this with my children) to be responsible. The connotation is that we are to “be good” and “do the right thing”. Words from the definition above enforce this idea, “… make caring and constructive choices…”. You see, “being responsible” is outwardly-focused
On the other hand, “taking responsibility” is about being a “… powerful causal force for your experience in life.” (The Responsibility Process, Christopher Avery). In his book, Christopher refers to “taking responsibility” as Responsiblity, and it is an inward focus. It is a commitment to one’s own life, to self-leadership, personal growth, and, ultimately, freedom. In this sense, Responsibility nsiblity means truly owning our power, and our ability to create, choose and attract the life we want.

I believe I understand what SEL is trying to do, we do it a little differently in our house. I teach and coach it a little differently in my business.

What do you do in your life? How have you / do you raise your children? How is it working for you?

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