How a culture of honor in a family can bring forth beautiful results part 2
As we saw in the last Article, a culture of Honor empowers.
Honor sets you free – free to change, free to grow, to flourish and to give your best.
The same goes for our children – any children under our authority.
We saw how there is another way than to define our children with labels… even in times we are have good reasons to give one of our children such a label, as it would perfectly fit to the actual behavior.
In this article I want to show you some more examples of how honor defines our interactions and how, by this given honor, we see a freedom that helps our children mature, grow, and flourish into their God given identity, into their unique, specific destiny.
I’d like to share with you how:
- We never make fun of our children, nor ridicule what they do
- We validate our children’s feelings and perceptions about things
- Our goal of education is not to control our children – but to teach them self-control.
- 1. We never make fun of our children, or ridicule what they do.
Children can be funny. There are situations we are amused about the reactions or behavior of our children. As a family, we love to have fun. We love to laugh together, and it’s part of what our children love to have – fun times, with laughter and silliness as a family.
However, we teach our kids that there is a difference between having a good time together and making fun of someone, or ridicule someone.
There are times together in our family, when our kids love to have everyone laughing for what they do or say. That’s not what I am talking about.
I’m talking about that kind of jokes that make someone the object of the amusement. I’m talking about the kind of comment that ridicules another person. I’m talking about the kind of situation where the other person comes out as the stupid, fool, idiot or as naive – and some people like to have fun at the expense of someone else.
This starts in the little things, like we experienced a few weeks ago with our two year old.
During this summer, he learned to go to toilet. He was very proud about each and every time he was able to control himself.
One day, I was sitting with a couple of friends in the garden, I saw our two year old approach us. He had taken away his pants and diapers and had his butt naked.
He made eye contact with me, stood a few meters away from us, stretched his legs and peed in the grass … right in front of our eyes.
My first reaction was to laugh at him. It was just hilarious – (and then, maybe, to tell him off because this was pretty rude in our cultural norms.) …
However, I recognized that look of his: A proud and happy gaze towards me.
Immediately, I adapted my reaction to that look. I understood that he did not want to be rude. He wanted to show off his capacity to control his pee.
Therefore, I gave my friends a quick look (as they were about to burst into laughter) and told my son:
“Wow, I am so proud of you! You did a great job! Very good! Were you actually able to exactly know when it was time to pee? “
“Yeees” he answered.
He was so proud, looking at me with a very large smile, happy and content. I could see him grow a few centimeters right in front of my eyes.
A sweet toddler, eager to be a big boy, capable of those things his older siblings are doing too. It would have been terrible and humiliating for him if I would have burst into laughter – even more together with my friends – or if I would have told him off and shamed his action, assuming that he was simply rude by our cultural and social standards.
2 We validate our children’s feelings and perceptions about things
I remember how it made me feel as a child when I expressed my emotions or feelings about a situation and was not taken seriously.
And I know how our children react to us, when we’re taking the time to validate their emotions or feelings, as my husband wrote in that article.
Lately, on a Saturday afternoon, I was invited to visit a befriended family with my children.
Right now, it is always a big struggle for our four year old to leave home, even more if this implies to go where other children are.
He didn’t want to enter the car. He cried when I started the engine. Even more so, when we drove out of our parking lot – and during the next minutes while I was driving.
To be honest, I felt very impatient and irritated. His crying was tiring, and I felt that there simply was no need to make such a big deal out of it. However, I knew that this in fact was a big deal to him.
Therefore, I took a deep breath, and asked him gently:
“Is the idea, to visit this family, that difficult for you? “
Through the rearview mirror I saw him nod, crying even more.
“Does it scare you?”
I continued my questions, trying to understand his emotional world. After a few of such questions, feeling that I had some idea about his reality, I told him:
“Oh boy, I understand. That has to be really difficult for you. I’m sorry you feel that way right now. And you know – it is ok for you to feel that way. I’m proud for who you are.
Right now, I can do nothing to change that situation, as we promised that family we are coming and your siblings and their children are looking forward to that afternoon. Sometimes in life, we can’t just do what we want to do. We can’t go back home right now. But I hear what you are saying and I understand. You’re such an awesome boy, I’m so happy with who you are. I will be there with you – and let me tell you, those kids are happy you are coming.“
He didn’t stop mumbling that that he doesn’t want to go. But the emotional crying, the pain and fear, that was there in the beginning, had gone.
It was more like a meager “but I don’t want to go”.
From time to time, I looked in the rearview mirror, smiled at him, and repeated:
“Yes I know you don’t feel like going. And I understand that. It is very ok for you to feel that way.“
When we arrived, I had a peaceful (although clingy) little boy.
When we left in the evening, after an afternoon full of games, playing on the playground and laughter, I had a happy little boy, telling me that he loved his afternoon with these children.
3. Our goal of education is not to control our children – but to teach them self-control.
In our family, we want to have a culture in our family, where trust and freedom create a safe place to teach them self control.
But like I explained in the example above, this has nothing to do with letting them do whatever they want or letting their emotional world dictate their day.
Because that’s not what self control is about.
The outcome of this next story shows a little what we are trying to achieve in our children:
A few days ago, our oldest was picking on his younger siblings.
Now, this is something he does very rarely. He’s a very gentle, caring big brother.
.After a few interventions of mine, when I told him to stop acting like that – without any change in his attitude – I took him by the hand, lead him (against his will) into his room and closed the door behind him. After a few minutes he opened the door, calling:
“Mom, can I come out?”
I answered him:
“Of course you can. You are not punished. I only tried to find a way to calm you down, in order that you can act appropriately with your siblings again.”
He looked at me, smiled, returned to his room and played there by himself for more than an hour.
When he came out, all calm and gentle again, I asked him:
“Son, what happened? Why were you that way with your siblings?”
His answer astonished me. I think for a 8 year-old this was pretty surprising:
“You know, yesterday it got late till we went to sleep and today I had school all day long, I think I was simply a bit overwhelmed.”
“Ok, I understand”, I replied.
“and what can I do for you the next time this happens? “.
He looked at me, smiling:
“Well, the same thing I guess. It was good to have some time to play by myself.”
Of course our interactions don’t always go that smoothly. However, this is what we want in the end. We don’t want to control our children. However, we do have a high standard of how we interact with each other and of what choices they make or how they behave.
But we want to teach them self control. And this, in an atmosphere without control, punishment and fear.
It is well possible that you might have another name to that value, we call “honor”.
When Benny and I got married, we very much applied this same principle, without having a name for it. We simply knew that we didn’t want to use labels to relate to each other and our children. We found ourselves making clear distinctions between “having fun” and “making fun of someone”. For us it was very important to validate the feelings of the other person. Control is something Benny and I both had our experiences with, and we knew how this was not something we wanted to cultivate in our family. That’s why we traded it for self-control.
Several years later into our marriage we discovered the book from Danny Silk “Culture of Honor”. Reading it, we had a name on what we were trying to do:
Honoring each other. Honoring our children.