Often, one piece of advice sticks in our minds long after we’ve heard it. Today, TKM contributor Anni Harry is sharing a piece of advice that has stuck with her for many years and recently made her rethink how she mothers.
A few years back, long before I had children, I met with a priest. The topic on my mind was the 4th Commandment, “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.” My question to the priest was, “What about in instances of abuse? How does one honor their mother or father if the Church supports a child reporting abuse?”
His response sticks with me over a decade later: “Honor that which is honorable.”
His guidance was given long before I had a husband, let alone my children. I took it to heart, and have since counseled many ladies, regardless of whether or not we talk about parental abuse, spousal abuse, or child abuse—which I do not condone or support—to “honor that which is honorable.”
My three-year-old son has always been strong-willed. On one hand, his strong-will is a trait I am trying to encourage and foster; on the other hand, as a parent, it provides a source of endless frustration when we are gridlocked in yet another battle of the wills.
A couple weeks ago, my son and I had a rough day. It culminated with my yelling at him and him spending some intimate time in time-out. The entire scenario resulted in crocodile tears on his part. As is customary, at the end of time-out, my son asked for his hug, and we sat there and cuddled for several minutes.
At the end of the day, I spent time reflecting on the day’s events. I began doubting the power struggle we’d engaged in—was it a battle I should have even chosen? As I was beginning to admonish myself, I reminded myself that, regardless of whether or not it was a battle I should have engaged in, the most important aspect was how I handled the battle, once engaged.
I then began scrutinizing the details of how the battle was conducted. When looking in the mirror, not liking the response I had given, I was reminded of those words long-spoken to me.
Since then, I have made a concerted effort, every time I begin to feel heated, to try to take a moment to breathe. I admit I haven’t been perfect in keeping my temper in check, but it’s become more imperative for me to keep that phrase in mind.
The last memory I want my children to have of their mother is one who is stressed, worried about inconsequential matters, and rushing constantly to meet the needs of everyone else outside of the family. My family should be my third priority—after God and my husband. If I can impart the values of God, family, and country to my children, and have them remember a mom who, laden with foibles, loved God and her family with all her heart, then I will have done my job.
I think the path to that end success is to keep in mind that I want them to be able to honor me as their mother, and I have to be honorable, in order for them to “honor that which is honorable.”
Anni Harry is a proud Catholic, Army wife, and mother to a three-year-old boy and five-month-old girl. She currently stays at home, but has a BA in History and a Masters of Social Work (MSW). She is a cradle Catholic who spent time exploring various other religions and reverted back to the Catholic faith. She blogs about her faith, parenting as it pertains to her family and her professional experience, and the adventures wherever the United States Army sends their family! You can follow her blog or find her on Facebook.