Our three boys began a habit of not acknowledging their mother when she called for them. When she said things like "Lunch is ready!
" or "It's time for bed
," they would continue their activities as if no one had spoken a word. It wasn't until she repeated the request with anger or threat of consequences that they would begrudgingly respond.
I kept quiet, unsure how best to respond effectively, but when the boys ignored her one more time during our family movie night, I could no longer hold my tongue. I quietly said, "Boys, shut the TV off and come here, please
" in my best "Dad-means-business
" tone. The TV popped off immediately and the boys gathered around me. I said to them "When you don't respond to Mom when she calls you, you are sending her a message. Do you know what that message is?
" They shook their heads no. "You are saying, 'Mom, I don't respect you.
" I let that sink in a moment and then told them "I think she at least deserves the respect to hear you say it out loud. Look her in the eye and say 'Mom, I don't respect you!
" One son said, "I can't say that!
" as he fought back tears. My wife had tears welling in her eyes too. The intensity of that moment was powerful. The boys saw up close that their passive neglect of Mom was hurtful to her. They were hurting her with the words of their actions, even if the action was to do nothing. Overwhelmed with shame, all three boys cried hard tears, each hugging Mom as if to say, "can you ever forgive me?"
The lesson has not been forgotten to this day. Your program has equipped me with an instinct to create "Dr. Laura
" moments like this one, which help shape our boys into men.
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