Today I was reading a set of penalties posted on Facebook for parents to use with their kids. It focused on doing good things to earn points to revoke grounding. It was a brilliant idea. It reminded me of the set of "rules" we posted on our refrigerator for our sons when they were teenagers. When they got in trouble they had to read them and specifically focus on the item that applied to their situation. It was posted on the fridge for years and I remember when they finally moved out, I took it down and the paper was all stiff and the ink faded but it was still legible.
As I read over them again today it reminded me that I wasn't a terrible parent. I did do some things right and now, years after I wrote and posted these rules, I can look at my sons and realize that despite their flaws, we didn't do a terrible job. If I compare the positive with the negative I can see that something got through to them. I see caring and compassion men who show respect for others, well, most of the time. No one is perfect here. They love their country and respect its laws and as far as possible, its leaders. They believe in the rights of others and when those rights are infringed, they are incensed. They recognize the dangers of tyranny and want to fix it.
They love God. This has always been so important to us. We saw how the world was failing and we feared that they would stray far away from their faith and never find their way back. And they did stray but we also watched, with great fear, as they struggled to return to that faith and to reinstate the values we tried to instil in them. We often feared the struggle would end in failure. Their dad is dead now but I know, were he alive, he'd feel so relieved at some of the changes in his sons. He'd be so proud of them.
I am blessed with good boys. There are things I'd change if I could but they became who they are because of who we were and how we raised them. And if there is something I don't understand about them or can't accept, I have to deal with that. As adults, it is up to them to fine tune their character if it needs it. I hope we gave them the tools to do that. Reading those rules and seeing the results of our work, I think we might have done. I hope so.
Rules of Respect
- Show courtesy to everyone. Please, Thank you, Sir, M’am, You’re welcome, and excuse me, are all keys that open doors. Everyone likes respect. You get what you give.
- Ask first. Do not take something that is not yours. If you “borrow” without asking, it is stealing. Get permission
- Wait your turn. Do not interrupt others when they are talking. Or, if you are not part of the conversation and need to speak to someone, “excuse me” is an appropriate way to get their attention if you have waited for several minutes.
- Know who’s in charge. If you see a need or problem, do not give orders – find the person in charge and politely mention the problem. If you have not been put specifically in charge, allow the person in charge to give the orders.
- Refuse to argue. Ask if you can quietly discuss the problem. The Bible says “a soft answer turneth away wrath.” Usually, it is hard to yell at someone who won’t yell back. After a while they get tired. Remember, sometimes it doesn’t work, especially if you have wrecked the car or broken curfew.
- Allow the other person to be right. No one is right all the time but neither are they always wrong. YOU could be wrong. It is more embarrassing to loudly declare you’re right and be proven wrong than it is to keep your mouth shut and let others loudly declare when you are right.
- Offer help. If someone is ill, physically unable to do a chore, or simply needs an extra pair of hands, offer to help. Do not wait to be asked. Offer kindly. If your help is refused, say nothing and allow them to do it themselves. If asked -- give your help to the best of your ability.
- Respect other’s privacy. Do not ask questions about someone’s personal life unless it will affect you personally. For example: You do not need to know about someone’s sex life unless you plan to have sex with them. Do not tell secrets you have been told unless there is a danger involved or a crime. Do not listen in on others’ conversations uninvited. Do not tell something you have overheard in a private conversation. Would you want someone to tell your secrets?
- Do unto others. If you want kindness, give it. If you want love, give it. If you want help, give it. If you want friendship, give it. If you want understanding, give it. If you want fairness, give it. If you want truth, give it. If you want joy, give it. If you want peace, give it. If you don’t want any of this, do nothing and you’ll get nothing.
- Overlook the jerks. There will ALWAYS be someone who defies all of the above. And because of it, no matter what you do, it will never be enough or it will always be wrong – to them. Walk away and smile. If you have done your best and followed the rules, you have won anyway. Always, always, always let them go before you. When the axe falls, it will be their head that rolls.