I think most of us are keenly aware of the fact that moms often are overworked and under-appreciated. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and not recognize that our kids and their moms are like dinghies and ships passing in the night. Did I mention everything from food to field trip money to clean underwear, being thrown from the ships, onto the dinghies? How easy it is for us, as dads, to forget that we are largely responsible in helping teach our children to honor not only their moms, but others, as well.
One of the things I found so effective is to simply model honoring behaviors for our children. I realize that sounds simple and sweet, but consistently putting it into practice is a whole other story. We get tired; we get stressed; and we sometimes forget to speak to each other as adults in an honoring manner. All the while, our kids are watching.
But, it’s not just the way we talk, it may even be more in what we do. My wife grew up with three older brothers, and then she and I had three boys of our own. I lucked out in that I married a woman who already was well-versed in the ways of the belching, scratching, high-energy shenanigans of young males. That made acts of service, such as the boys putting away their pile of baseball gear, having table manners, and doing the dishes, cause her to feel extremely appreciated. She knew it wasn’t in their wheelhouses, and she knew they most certainly would rather be throwing a ball or digging through a bin of Legos than clearing the table, making these kindnesses more valuable than all of the Mother’s Day cards and flowers in the world. (But, don’t kid yourselves, moms like the cards and flowers, too.)
While May is a month in which we specifically honor mothers, it also brings us Memorial Day, and another opportunity for exposing our children to not only what it means to honor, but also what it means to be honorable. Because we lived so far from extended family while our boys were growing up, we began flying with them when they were babies. Once they were old enough to walk and somewhat audibly form the words, “Thank you for your service,” we had them on the lookout for men and women of our Armed Forces in every airport we frequented. But, we didn’t start this by pushing our toddlers at strangers in uniform. We had long before been holding them in our arms, as we shook hands with those we honor, chatting about where they were stationed, telling them we appreciated them and that we prayed for them.
Our kids didn’t see a huge display of self-righteous goody-two-shoe proportions. It was something we meant, and something they grew up thinking was the norm. It gave my wife and me great joy to see our boys flip out at a sporting event or grocery store when spying an older gentleman sporting a WWII ball cap. Forget Kobe and LeBron, there was a combat veteran in the house.
Moms and those who serve our country, are not the only ones deserving of our honor, and the honor of our children. Firefighters, policeman, teachers, nurses, the list is endless. Ultimately, we should all strive to model what it is to honor, and be honorable, in all walks of life with all types of people. We are really great at telling our kids, “If you want friends, be friendly.” Shouldn’t the same go for honor? Never underestimate the power of honor . . . not just in what you say, but most importantly, in what you demonstrate.