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Paper Routes and Accountability

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

When I was growing up I had a paper route. This meant that every morning I would get on my bike and make my way through the neighborhood to all of my deliveries. After some practice, I got pretty good at slinging the paper up to the porch from the sidewalk while I was still sitting on my bike. 

One summer morning, I threw a paper up to the house of an older widow who lived in the neighborhood. The paper crashed hard against her metal storm door and I heard the entire glass door break and crumble. I immediately wanted to ride away as quickly as I could because I felt so guilty. But I couldn’t. The loud sound had scared the woman inside and she was at the door as I made my way up to it. I apologized for what I had done and told her that I would pay for the damage. It took my whole paycheck, but I did it. 

Apologizing and paying for the door is what is known as behavioral accountability. However, when you are trying to repair a...

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