Just like Rosie the Riveter, people with ResponsibilityⓇ do not rest until the job is done and done right. In trying situations, like America entering WWII, people with ResponsibilityⓇ will take care of what needs to be done no matter how difficult or impossible others may consider it to be. While I see many Americans doing the best with their ResponsibilityⓇ every day, I have the greatest soft spot in my heart for my two very responsible grandparents, Ray and Kate Belko.
Married 67 years with 9 children and umpteen grandchildren and great-grandchildren, my grandparents know the meaning of commitment and following through on it. On any day, it would be understandable if one of them said, “I can’t today. It is too hard.” But, defaulting on a commitment is not something that someone with ResponsibilityⓇ does or does lightly.
I would say ResponsibilityⓇ is an anchor strength, a strength that is prominent throughout a lifetime, for both of my grandparents. Interestingly, they both developed it in different ways. My grandfather’s ResponsibilityⓇ was developed by the first way– modeling. The son of Polish/ Slavic immigrant parents, my grandfather witnessed his mother and father make many great sacrifices for their family. In return, my grandfather did the same. With his father, they bought a piece of farm land, built a home for my great grandparents, then built another home next door for my grandparents and growing family. In true ResponsibilityⓇ fashion, they managed every detail themselves. From drafting blueprints to securing materials at low costs to the labor, my great grandfather and grandfather literally built their homes with their own bare hands. This ResponsibilityⓇ strength was obviously passed down from father to son.
My grandmother, on the other hand, came across ResponsibilityⓇ by different means. As the eldest daughter of five siblings in an Irish Catholic family, my grandmother never really had the opportunity to have a childhood. As soon as she could manage, she was taking care of her younger siblings because if she did not, no one else would. The absence of ResponsibilityⓇ in her life catalyzed its developed in herself.
Even if falling on hard times, my responsible grandparents always find a way to take care of their family. Like the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, people with ResponsibilityⓇ are especially equipped to complete obligations with the deck stacked against them. In my grandmother’s case, she is famous for her soups! She served soup for dinner every Monday night for decades. And, why soup? Because if neighbors or friends show up to dinner unexpectedly (which occurred frequently), you can always make more servings by adding water and cutting bread slices in half.
Now that my grandparents are both 88 years old, there are new challenges with being the bread winner and bread provider. Proud and joyful to responsibly take care of their family and each other for years, it is difficult to admit a small task is hard or to ask for help. For instance, my grandfather was fixing something on the roof three days after hip surgery! Anyone engaged in elder care likely knows what I am talking about here because ResponsibilityⓇ is prevalent in that generation. So, how can we support loved ones while not stealing their pride and joy? It depends on how your loved one developed ResponsibilityⓇ.
For anyone like my grandfather that had ResponsibilityⓇ modeled, repeat the learning process. Ask them to teach you their tasks, routines, or obligations. Start joining them as an assistant, then you can work your way up to “I did this act of service for you because I love you and wanted to do something nice for you just like you have always done for me.” Asking to be back-up on tasks to navigate difficult situations, like doctor’s appointments, can be helpful too. Just never say it is because the responsible person can not do it; that is the harshest thing to say to someone with ResponsibilityⓇ. If they still need convincing to accept your help, it needs to be because of external reasons, like the unpredictability of a doctor’s office or you picked some extra groceries up because you were already at the store.
For anyone like my grandmother that developed ResponsibilityⓇ because of its absence, repeat their learning process. Find gaps where you can help in their life. For example, I saw you were out of milk, so I picked some up while I was out. Once your loved one is comfortable with you filling in more gaps in their life, you can offer to assist in other areas. Know they will likely rebuff your offers at first, so you must be persistent. But after you successfully help once, they will be more likely to accept your help on those tasks again.
What do you all think? How do you see ResponsibilityⓇ in your lives? Have you encountered ResponsibilityⓇ in elder care? What has worked for you? This article is a continuation of a conversation on ResponsibilityⓇ with Do you have the most common strength in American women? If you missed it, go back to learn more about ResponsibilityⓇ.
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