When we hear the word honor, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s like the honor culture of eastern cultures, right? Like what my kids see when they watch Mulan. But here in the west, in the US, honor is not a big part of our culture. Maybe on Mother’s Day where we give our mom a card or a phone call, or something military-like being honorably discharged. We don’t have a culture of honor.
To honor someone is simply to put a value on them. I was listening to something the other day and it referred to a study that was done by Columbia University where they analyzed tens of thousands of email data from massive corporations and what they found is that you can chart how important someone is in a work environment by how quickly people respond to their emails. The more important you are, the quicker you get an email back. But we’re really called to treat everyone as though they’re valuable, right?
Here are 3 strategies for how we can raise kids who honor others:
1. Honor Ourselves
So yes, we have to model honor if we want to teach our kids to act honorably. We have to honor others, we have to honor them – treating our kids with dignity and respect. Treating them as though they’re valuable – because they are. Listening to them, being present, being curious and engaged.
But I think the less obvious is that we also have to model what it looks like to honor ourselves. Because what we think about ourselves, how we talk to ourselves, how we talk about ourselves – is part of how we model honor to our kids. Like so many other things we want to teach our kids – it starts with us. And with this one, I think it literally starts with us. Honor is a mindset. And I say it all the time, but how we do one thing, is how we do everything. So I don’t think we can teach them to honor themselves, honor their parents, or honor God if we don’t first honor ourselves. From there, honor will spill out onto others.
So what does it look like to honor ourselves? It’s a lot of the things that many of us struggle with so this is a great opportunity for growth for probably everyone in this community. Do I recognize that I am a unique and worthy human being in this world? Do I honor myself in my expression? Do I honor myself in being honest or do I hold back for fear of offending others or fear of seeming disagreeable? Do I love what I see in the mirror every day and honor the body God gave me – honor the stretch marks and the dimples and the scars and the wrinkles? Do I treat my body with honor by how I feel it and strengthen it? Do I honor myself by showing up and chasing my dreams or do I shrink back and live a small, safe life?
One of the main ways that we as moms tend to dishonor ourselves is by people-pleasing. For me, this is a massive area of focus, stretching, and growth. We need to rest. We need to learn to be ok saying no. We need to take time for ourselves and not be constantly pouring out for those around us and heading straight to burnout. Honoring ourselves requires really strong loving boundaries. So many of us women really struggle with this – we have this idea that we need to be superwoman but in trying to do and be it all for everyone, we can run ourselves into the ground. Even Oprah’s said that her life drastically changed -massive growth and improvement – when she stopped people pleasing and got really intentional about and committed to her boundaries.
2. Be Honest When We Mess Up
We’ve all had less-than-stellar moments as moms, and I hate to break it to you, but there are probably more to come. Because motherhood is really hard. And we really care. And we’re really human! The good news is that our kids don’t need perfect moms. It doesn’t exist. But what they do need is to know that their relationship with us is still intact and that they can trust us, even though we’re going to mess up sometimes.
So we’re all going to do and say things to our kids we regret, and we can make intentions to handle those missteps honorably after they happen. When we hear “be the bigger person” when it comes to apologizing or forgiving, often that’s referring to doing what’s honorable. It’s honorable to admit when we’ve made a mistake. It’s honorable to be accountable for our actions. It’s honorable to apologize. It’s honorable to ask for forgiveness. And it’s honorable to commit and take action to do better next time. And when we mess up with our kids and are honest with them about it, I think this teaches so much about honoring each other.
In the repair process after we’ve messed up, we can actually deepen our relationship with our kids. We can teach that we’re not perfect and we don’t expect them to be either. And we can show them how we communicate when we’ve hurt others and can admit we’re wrong. We can explain how we plan to make things better or take different actions next time. And when we do so, that honors those around us.
The truth is regardless of what my kids do, I’m the adult, I’m the parent, and I need to do better at controlling my actions and I can honor them by acknowledging that. And if this is something you struggle with or you just would love to hear more about – how we can effectively repair with our kids after we’ve yelled at them, been shot, lost our cool – whatever – check out episode 27. I really lay out how to effectively repair with our kids after we’ve messed up and I walk you through some scripts and easy handles to help guide those moments because they’re really such great teaching opportunities and also great opportunities for you to strengthen and deepen your relationship with your children.
3. Generous With Our Words
One of my favorite, and maybe one of the easiest ways to teach our kids to honor others is to teach them to be generous with their words. We’re not stingy with our words in this family. We’re not stingy with compliments, honor, recognition, and encouragement – we give it generously. And this is a pattern. Some of us, or our children, might be in a pattern of not noticing – so just a new awareness of what’s going on around us can be a great place to start. Wow, mom cleaned my clothes and folded them before I even woke up this morning. Wow, mom packed my lunch for school today and even included my favorite snack. Wow, mom took time off work to come to my concert at school today. And it’s not just us – it’s their dad, grandparents, teachers, and siblings – everywhere they turn there are people for our kids to honor if they can start to become aware of how blessed they are and how valuable these people are in their lives.
And for those of us or our children who have the awareness, maybe we’re in a pattern of noticing and thinking, but we don’t take that next step of verbalizing our honor. We notice our husband washed our car and filled the tank, but we don’t say anything. We notice one kid helping the other with her homework but we don’t say anything. We see how much time and love our kids’ teachers put into their school experience, but we don’t really thank them. We love our friends’ new haircuts but we don’t say anything. So I think we can really model this for our kids and they’ll see it and hear us and it’ll become their pattern. Noticing what others are doing and then verbalizing their honor – expressing gratitude, acknowledging others’ effort, speaking life over others, doling out compliments, encouraging and building others up.
And how do you encourage honor in your children? Let us know in the comments