Raising Responsible Kids: Learning from your Mistakes

Raising Responsible Kids: Learning from your Mistakes

We’ve reached part two of this month’s topic of raising responsible kids! In our previous blog post, Prime driver James Rose discussed the aspect of setting a good example for your kids to instill the value of responsibility. 

This week, father of four Bruce Reeves, who has been driving for Prime for four and a half years, ties in the aspect of financial responsibility to the concept of learning from your mistakes. 

Integrity and responsibility are intertwined

“I think for me, responsibility and integrity are two things that kind of mesh together,” Bruce said. “I’ve always thought of both of them as doing the right thing even if no one is watching. Responsibility isn’t just about taking out the trash. It’s about taking out the trash, even when no one told me to.”

For Bruce, both integrity and responsibility are connected—because both involve being accountable for one’s actions. Whatever job duty you perform, big or small, both aspects of character come in handy. 

Mistakes are okay

“I think most things are taught by example,” Bruce said. “I’ve always told them (my kids) ‘Mistakes are okay.’ I’m not gonna judge you by that, I’m gonna judge how you react to it.”

“Apologize,” he continued. “Make sure they understand the expectations. I expect them to call me out on it, too.”

Bruce shared a story about how his mother-in-law passed away due to poor health. When he informed his daughter of her passing, she became upset and asked why he hadn’t told her when her grandmother first started experiencing health problems. 

“I got called out. I did the wrong thing,” he said. 

In other words, you can call your kids out when they do the wrong thing, but dads ought to expect the same thing in return! Mistakes are a part of life and are an important way for us to learn and do better in the future. 

“I try to teach them to be responsible for your actions and take responsibility. Call each other out. Sometimes it’s not easy doing the right thing. A lot of the time it’s not easy doing the right thing!” 

Owning up to your mistakes is an important action in fatherhood. Teaching your kids that mistakes and failure are a part of life is beneficial in the long run. 

“As a parent, one of the tough things to do is make your kids make mistakes. You want to stop them. Sometimes you’ve gotta let them fail. Good decisions come from experience, but most of the experience comes from bad decisions.”

Treat chores and household responsibilities like a job to prepare for the future

“All of my kids’ first jobs were sorta working for me,” Bruce said. “I created that for them. They had their chores and responsibilities, and we treated it like a job. You’ll make five bucks if you do it.”

 Bruce stated that using an accounting ledger for his kids was beneficial. It showed how much allowance they’d earn that week. He never directly gave them money if they wanted to buy something. 

He used the example of his son wanting a bicycle. If he wanted to take 15 dollars to go to the movies, he could do that, but it would delay him getting his bicycle. By instilling the value of saving money, it made him realize “If I WANT the bicycle, I have to save up for it.”

“We would sit down with them regularly and talk to them about their financial goals. It allowed them to be a little bit more responsible.” 

Teach kids about savings early

Bruce said he finds one of the best ways to spread financial responsibility at Prime is through his work with training other drivers, especially “how much money I made this week and how much I have to spend weekly,” he explained.

Using your own job as an example is a great way for dads to prepare their children for a future job of their own. It can be especially helpful to discuss financial responsibility, budgeting and saving for older children, e.g. teenagers.

It’s also a good way to show how it’s best to be responsible with money by saving a little at a time rather than spending it all. 

“Some weeks are not good weeks in this business,” Bruce admitted. “I talk to (Prime trainees) about how to prepare this week for what’s coming up. I kind of created a money ledger concept with that (particular) student. In this business as a lease-or owner-operator, I have to explain that you have financial responsibilities.”

Lessons about money can be applied to kids and adults alike. It’s best to determine where you are budget-wise, what you want to save up for, and what you can do to afford it. 

Be a parent, not a friend

“(Responsibility) means not necessarily being a friend, but being a parent,” Bruce said. “Sometimes it’s hard. I’ve never met someone who wanted to raise bad children. Some people want to be the child’s friend. Hold your children responsible for your actions.” 

Bruce’s kids are fully grown, but when they were younger, he sat down with them and had a genuine conversation. He told them: “You’re at that age where you’re gonna start doing some dumb stuff. I’m gonna tell you straight up I did dumb stuff, too. If you make a bad decision, you’re gonna pay for it. You’ve gotta make sure you understand.”

While being a disciplinarian is neither comfortable nor enjoyable, Bruce said he tries to do it with love. Sometimes children need to be disciplined, but that doesn’t mean dads don’t love their kids, he said.

“Be their parent,” Bruce said. “You’ve got a job to do. It’s a big responsibility.”

Let your kids know you’re there for them

“I think one of the key things is making sure that you know that just because I’m not physically close by, it doesn’t mean I’m not there for you,” Bruce said.

He mentioned briefly his career in the air force. “For many years that was a real challenge to me.  I can’t tell you how many birthdays and Christmases I missed.” 

Despite the challenges, Bruce said that his kids know they can call him anytime. “Let them know I have this job, but if you need me there, I’ll make a way to be there. Try and make sure that I’m there for them, which can also be a difficult thing.”

Final Words

Teaching big concepts like responsibility can be difficult, especially over the road. But Bruce said that the little moments make it all worthwhile. Crediting his brother-in-law in this sentiment, Bruce said, “you’re going through weeks on end of the kids annoying you, getting on your nerves, or they’re gonna be mad at you. Then one night, they’re gonna run in the room and give you a peck on the cheek and say ‘I love you.’ If that three seconds doesn’t make all of it worth it, don’t be a parent.” 

One of Bruces’s granddaughters, Emma, called him out of the blue to tell him ‘I love you.’ Bruce said he cherishes moments like that, especially over the road. 

“All the little problems, you’ve just got to let them roll off your back,” he said “It’s gotta be worth it at that moment.”


  • Dora Gilreath

    Dora joined the Good Dads team in 2024 and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in creative writing at Missouri State University. She grew up with a truck driving father and loves reading, writing and anything related to theater.

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