A few weeks ago I attended an 80th birthday party with Jan honoring a gentleman at church. He recently moved into a very upscale independent living retirement facility. The same complex also includes assisted living services in another building. The company should rename it: “Retiring in Style.” It is a first rate place to be during that time in life.
I jokingly told Jan that our boys would eagerly place her in a facility just like that in her golden years, if I happen to precede her in death. What if she goes first and I am left to the care of the boys? They have already threatened to put me in a facility that the state actually shut down a few years ago, because of repeated code violations. What is wrong with that picture? Actually nothing is wrong.
If a man’s sons honor their mother, something is going right. I have made countless mistakes as a father, but my boys respectfully adore their mother. When they were small, I demanded such behavior. But now that they are older it comes naturally. I realize she is the kind of person worthy of such esteem, but it is still an attitude that has to be instilled in children.
It is interesting to watch the interaction between the boys and their mother now. When Randall calls home, he wants to talk to his mother. He has never been one to hide behind his mother or to be a mama’s boy. That child was born with an independent spirit. Their conversations are productive and engaging. I of course want talk to him as well, but it thrills me to see how his relationship with Jan is evolving. I imagine when Daniel goes to college next month that a similar pattern could develop.
If was in the position to dole out advice for young fathers of boys, I would have a few words of wisdom on this subject. I would urge them to demand respectful behavior from their boys. There should be zero tolerance in the home for boys talking back to their mother or otherwise disrespecting her. And of course dads have to model that kind of demeanor too! Domestic violence would become a rarity if such admonitions were followed.
Men should be men. And part of being a man is exhibiting respectful behavior toward the important women in our lives. What benefit will I receive from expecting such an attitude from my boys? It could help me land in some sub-standard nursing home someday. Perhaps before I pay college tuition and housing bills this fall I should have two of my three boys sign a “fatherly old age” contract. No that is an idea…