Queens, N.Y. - Ah-ha! I got you! Now you are in trouble! This is what sometimes passes for accountability and can give the word a negative stigma – this hyper-critical, lazy-eyed focus seems to be the hunt for damning error rather than gracious mutual benefit. Accountability that honors and encourages integrity is good – no – it is healthy, needed and very good, especially for and between fathers. Men compartmentalize by design and, as such, need accountable relationships to maintain balance.
Accountability optimally ought to come from the combination of relationship and truth. Here honesty inspires improvement. However, minus training, proper equipment, clearly communicated goals, reasonable expectations and a well-established relational platform of honor and encouragement, accountability can become a mere a scare tactic that make demeaning, unhealthy or even abusive criticism appear palatable. Accountability discourages, stifles, binds and can destroy stability, hope and creativity when improperly applied.
Capture or blame is the normative accusatory tone associated with the word accountability in too many justice systems, business environments and even in some journalistic reporting. It has an exposing, whistleblowing or condemning connotation. It can stifle creativity and promote hiding and/or conspiracy. It seems to lurk in the shadows waiting for the opportunity to embarrass, humiliate or at the least accuse and/or get someone fired or lose credibility for missing the mark. Institutions often need watchful eyes given humanity's natural tendency to lie, cheat and steal.
In institutions accountability is supposed to be objective, while it searches for the negative underbelly of a circumstance or person’s handling of a circumstance. It lacks relationship or compassion. It honors and encourages no one and more often than not causes hiding. In fatherhood and other personal relationships this impersonal approach to accountability does not work. When dads can help hold each other in the safety created by honor and encouragement, fatherhood flourishes.
Fatherly accountability is not designed to punish on one hand and not designed to foster an inflated view of one’s self on the other hand. People who are abusive to others and yes-men need not apply for accountability to be effective. It is intended for integrity to flourish – so the right things are done, the right way for the right reasons. Lamont Jones, the COO of the Furthering Fathering Corporation and the accountability partner of the NY Fatherhood Examiner, sees humility and safety as key to healthy and fruitful accountability relationships, especially for dads.
“It is humbling and takes you through maturation…it is not about doing the right things and getting accolades for the good things we are doing. It is also about being able to be transparent about areas where we miss the mark. I love it. My accountability partners and I diligently do this. The best thing that happened to us is that we hit the wall, experienced the difficulties together; we were praying for each other, so when the break through happens, we get to rejoice all the more together. We are not in this alone. That’s a huge benefit. You have to humble yourself to even open up and be transparent”, said Mr. Jones.
Transparency is vital if accountability is going to be authentic and effective. Honor and encouragement creates the safe relationship necessary for transparency and fatherly accountability to thrive. Dads need accountable relationships to grow, reconcile and raise their children. Grace much more abounds.