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Units of Concern: Taking Ownership of Your Kids’ Responsibilities

Submitted by on August 24, 2016 – 6:31 pmNo Comment

Let Kids Take Ownership of Their Responsibilities

Minimize Units of Concern by Allowing Kids to Take Ownership of Their Responsibilities


Have you ever noticed that when you want your kids (or spouse or anyone, for that matter) to get something done,  that the more you yearn for them to get started and finish it up, the more they resist and drag their feet? I certainly have! And so, I am going to share you with something I learned from the Love and Logic ™ program. It is regarding the “units of concern”.

It seems that we, as parents,  can often only feel at peace when we not only have all of our responsibilities taken care of, but when our kids have theirs taken care of, as well.  Until then, their tasks remain on our to-do list and we are not able to rest!

This is actually not a healthy way to live. Not healthy for us or for our kids.  While learning to be happy regardless of the actions of others is the subject of another article that could be written, let’s look at how nagging our kids to get their stuff done, is counter-productive.

You see, there are a certain number of units of concern involved in every issue.  I like to use the number ten, for simplicity.  And I like to see these 10 units of concern within a circle.  Let’s use my recent example.  My son is about to leave for his sophomore year of college.  His summer job ended a couple of weeks ago, so he has lots of free time right now.  I am acutely aware of the list of things that need to be taken care of  before he heads off: pick  up his new contact lenses from the eye doctor, get his glasses repaired, have his retainer cleaned at the orthodontist’s  office, get his iPhone screen repaired, etc, etc.  And I want him to get these things NOW! Why? So that his list will disappear from my list and I can feel peaceful.

Over the past week I watched him do a lot of fun things and also a lot of things I considered a waste of time, being that he had all of these responsibilities to get taken care of.  His procrastination was causing me great discomfort.  And then I  became aware.  I was owning too many of the units of concern around the issue.  If there are 10 of them around this issue, clearly, I was owning at least 8 of them. That left 2 for my son. Not enough to motivate him to get moving!

And so I backed off. I let go of all the units! I took his responsibilities off my own to-do list and went about my own business.  After all, if he didn’t get these things done, who would affect more, him or me? The answer is him.

A couple of days following my release of the units of concern, he walked in the front door with six months worth of contact lenses, repaired eye glasses, a new iPhone screen  and a sparkling clean retainer.

Maybe it’s like old phrase, “the watched pot never boils”. But I have noticed that  when I can let go of the majority of the units of concern around someone else’s issue, including my thoughts around that issue, they seem a lot more likely to take the responsibility on themselves.

Of course, when allowing others to own the units of concern around their issues, we must also be willing to allow them to suffer the consequences of not taking care of their problems.  And when we can allow that, we have more peace and others learn the lessons they are needing to learn about life. And everybody wins.

Amy Egan, LLC

Amy Egan - Ask Amy Column - North Texas KidsAmy Egan is a parenting consultant and life coach. She coaches privately, loves to speak to parent organizations and hosts several weekly life coaching groups for women and moms. Contact Amy for parenting courses, private sessions or speaking engagements for your group at You can also visit her website at or like her parenting page on Facebook,  Amy Egan – Texas Parenting.





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