I met guest blogger Shari McGuire through a group of women married to stay-at-home dads. Several of us who work downtown get together once a month for lunch on the skyway. Unless, of course, work and life get in the way. Recently, after a hiatus of a few months, Shari showed up and I almost didn't recognize her. She'd lost 75 pounds after weight-loss surgery, looked and sounded like a new person, and was on her way to starting her own motivational business. She wrote this for Cribsheet.

After the birth of my son in 2007, I became acutely aware of all the bonding opportunities my son and I would be robbed of if I didn’t address my morbid obesity.

From the start, I had a hard time getting on the floor to play with him and I knew it would grow from there – no room on my lap for him to sit, missing out on amusement rides because I wouldn’t fit so he could be “accompanied by an adult"... the list goes on.

I had lost weight before. In 2003, I lost 85 pounds, looked fantastic and even finished Grandma’s Marathon. But I gained it all back and then some.

After the birth of my son, I came to the conclusion that I needed to spark that burning desire inside of me to make it happen again.  My “why” needed to be big enough and much like running a marathon it was up to me to put one foot in front of the other. Last year, I got LapBand surgery to help me get there, realized that 90 percent of weight loss is mental and co-founded a company to coach others to own their results.

I'm now teaching my son to own the results of his actions even as a small child.

As parents we are well aware of our responsibility to instill good values and behaviors in our children. We don’t always take it a step further though to teach our children to be responsible for their actions. It is so tempting to give our kids the easy way out – no fuss, no temper tantrums.

But then they don’t learn important life lessons and grow up blaming others for their failures.

My son Trevor will be three years old in April. He and I recently had a battle over bedtime. He threw a huge temper tantrum. I told him, if you crawl in bed now before I count to three, I will tell you two Trevor stories. If he didn’t, I was going to walk out and not come back in.

I counted to three, he didn’t relent and I walked out making him angrier. My husband Jim went in and got him settled down. Trevor asked Jim if I would come back in and tell him Trevor stories. Jim told him he would ask me and wouldn’t promise that I would come back in. I almost caved in and held my ground.

The next night, we enjoyed a very pleasant nighttime routine.  Lesson learned for now.

I think back to all the times I left my flute at home as a kid and my mom would leave work, drive home to get it and bring it to me at school. In defense of my mom, she did the best she knew how. What if she’d instead told me, “sorry to hear you left your flute at home. Let me know how it goes at band without your flute today.” I bet my flute would have been attached to my hip whenever I left home for school.

I remember how even in my 30s it would take me four trips in and out of the house in the morning sometimes because I would “forget” things.

Of course the learning opportunities continue as our children grow.  I am reminded of a neighbor we once had whose daughter turned 16 and received a brand new, high end car.  One night she came barreling down the icy street too fast, took out a row of mailboxes and totaled her new car.  This was a great opportunity to learn a life lesson. Iinstead her parents bought her another brand new car.

Do I get the personal responsibility training with my son right all the time?  Absolutely not.

For the longest time, my husband and I weren’t good at getting Trevor to pick up his toys and he knew he could get away with not helping.  With practice though, I’ve learned to say, “we can go have a snack after we pick up your blocks.  Do you want to pick up the red ones or the blue ones?”  If he doesn’t help, then he doesn’t get a snack.

Personal responsibility for our actions has gone out of style; I might suggest it’s time for it to become fashionable again.

As for me, I can now ride on amusement rides with my son, play race cars on the floor with ease, and snuggle with him on my lap. 

Shari McGuire, 42, is a mom of one living in Maple Grove, MN.  She is also co-founder of EmberBrite (www.emberbrite.com), a transformational coaching company that helps clients develop the strategy, motivation and accountability required achieve the life they aspire to live on the inside and out.


Shari and Trevor