Personal Honor

There are moments in a parent's or grandparent's life, when they receive validation for the way they are living, or, have lived, that life. These moments are usually quiet ones, with no fanfare celebrating the occasion. Yet, the importance of these moments has no equal. To those of us who have given of our time, our love, our care, ourselves, they are of far greater private, personal significance, than can be stated.

A few years ago, I found myself in a personally trying situation. It was during this period that I was paid what I feel will be the finest compliment I shall ever receive. It concerned my conduct during this time. My eldest daughter remarked that she believed me to be the most honorable person she would ever know. For me, as a parent, it was a defining moment.

I was blessed with another such moment recently, courtesy of my eldest grandson. Although he's a teenager now, we maintain the close relationship begun in his early years. We enjoy conversing. No subject is taboo, and he feels free to discuss whatever is of interest to him, or of concern. On this particular occasion, he was endeavoring to put into words, his feelings concerning something that was of great importance to him. By his demeanor, his urgency of voice, I realized this was something with which he had been struggling.

He began by seeking my opinion. What did I think of people who were always changing? Well, I remarked, in life, it's good to remain flexible. Narrow-minded thinking limits a person's potential. He shook his head. No, he wasn't talking about that. He said he realized a person must have an open mind. He was speaking of how people live their lives. I listened to him, as he continued endeavoring to impart his meaning to me. Suddenly the meaning dawned on me. I asked if he were talking about personal honor. Was he referring to the personal rules of conduct we adopt for ourselves, the morals we choose? Yes, he replied, that was it exactly! Why, he wanted to know, did people sometimes abandon these? Wasn't that like not being true to yourself? Didn't they feel bad about themselves? Wasn't that like letting your self down?

I looked at this young man, this human being for whom I feel so much love, and chose my next words with great care. Yes, son, I said to him, it's letting your self down. Choosing actions that go against your personal code of honor diminishes you, as a human being. Even during the most trying times in life, especially during those times, remaining true to your self is of utmost importance. Even when certain actions are perfectly acceptable to others, or when they seem to be the easier choices, or when said actions may in some way benefit you in the short term. In the end, if they go against your core beliefs, you will carry the ill consequences with you, for the rest of your life.

He listened intently to my words. I could see him weighing them, mulling over the concept. He then nodded, and replied that yes, he understood. He went on to say that there were things he felt he would not, could not do, and stay true to himself. He stated what I had told him was like when a person does something wrong, and even if no one else ever knows, the person who does the act carries the guilt of it. He remarked that he hoped he would be strong enough, in life, to never let him self down. I replied that I had great faith in the fact that he would indeed, have enough strength. He smiled, and said, I love you Grams. In a voice touched with deep pride, and sincere affection, I replied that I was rather fond of him, too.

There are moments, in the lives of parents and grandparents...

Jeannine Schenewerk is a freelance writer residing in Atlanta, Georgia. She maintains an informative, upbeat site for mature women at: http://www.intouchwithjeannine.com

In The News:

How Children Evolved to Whine  The New York Times
Nurturing modern age kids  Deccan Chronicle
Online advice on parenting  New Straits Times
Open-access parenting programme shows promise  University of Cape Town News

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