Monday, September 20, 2010

Virtues for a special needs parent - part 3

The third installment in my series on virtues is Honor and Humility.

There are several ways we can take the word honor here. I've always assumed that Valiente meant for us to act as honorable people - keeping our word to others, treating others with respect, acting with integrity - a person of good moral character. .

True, we act with honor when we care for our children, when we treat all the teachers, therapists, doctors, and other staff members we deal with in a positive manner, even when we're angry with them.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that some of the other definitions of honor might apply as well. Some parents I know, for example, feel honored to be the parent of their child, to be allowed to learn from them. Some of us are respected in our respective communities for our advocacy, and that's honor too.

Some people even try to bestow honor on us as parents for taking on such a challenge (though I'm quick to point out that there isn't any other choice, so it's not really, in my mind, an issue of honor).

And that brings us to humility. If there's anything I've learned on this journey, it's humility. The word humble is related to various words for earth - we even use the phrase, "down to earth," to describe people who are humble. So, in elemental terms, humility means acting as one who is well grounded.

Humility is knowing when I don't know the answer. It's allowing others to help us.

It's knowing that the doctor standing there, telling me things about my child's future that he can't actually predict, isn't acting with humilty (or even necessarily with honor), and calling him to the carpet without being rude.

The pairing of honor and humility is interesting - it's easy to lose sight of humility when we're being honored for our actions. But balancing the two of them - being humble without being a door mat, and being aware of our standing in the community, and aware of how other people see the things we accomplish for and with our children while maintaining humility, can be an interesting line to walk.

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple

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