Is 'honor' different from 'respect' or is it simply semantics?

Semantics, yeah, probably. But in our household there is a difference. 

While in society we tend to use these two words interchangeably, there is an important distinction between them. A distinction that, again, could be semantics, but nevertheless a distinction that changed the way I parented after I read the book, "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes" by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. 

"When families think about honor, they often restrict their thinking to respectful behavior - being polite, courteous, and have good manners. This is a narrow understanding and is only a small portion of what honor actually is. Respectful behavior, although a subset of honor, is incomplete by itself...Respect is outward, focusing on a person's position or on the power of an office. People respect police officers or judges [as they should] for their authoritative position." (18) But honor goes a bit deeper, it shows value and worth. 

The distinction is in the 'why'. We show respect because we admire someone's abilities or achievement and/or it is simply the right thing to do socially; it's outward. We show honor because we value that person as a person; inwardly. "Honor is treating people as special, doing more than is expected, and having a good attitude...it teaches you to consider the needs of others, not just your own." (25, 30) Honor is doing something the first time you're asked, or even without being asked, it is being kind, it is going above and beyond expectations and the key, just as it says above, is doing it with a good attitude.

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out."
- Robert Collier


So two years ago we started an "honor" jar (details at the bottom for anyone interested)...



And this past weekend with 1,179 displays of honor, our kids filled the honor jar!! 


We knew that it would likely happen this summer so our honor jar had to make the journey across the country with us from Maine to California and the kids have been working extra hard to finally reach their goal. 

The deal was that when they filled the jar they would be able to pick something extra special (something bigger) that they wanted to do. Out of all the things they could have chosen I could not have been more excited when they decided that they wanted to go camping. They were all so excited about this decision and it was entirely theirs!

So this past weekend we went camping with the kids for the first time at Sly Lake in Pollack Pines, CA and it was absolutely amazing! Not only was it incredibly beautiful, but it was uninterrupted family time that was just so special. 

Backing up a little, here we were in California with zero camping gear...so with the 1,179 quarters (or $294.75) the kids paid for the campsite, bought a tent, a few sleeping pads, a small cooler, and we were off! They planned the entire trip including the meals and were so excited! It was something that they had pride in because, "the fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest" (Deepika Padukone). 

But why focus on this for so long? Why make this such a long-term goal? The answer is summed up in one word...habits! Specifically, forming good habits that I believe mold character. 

"The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken."
- Samuel Johnson

This is one of the most important things to me in the education of my kids because, as I stated in my last blog "nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care" (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt). It is one of the things that drew me to Acton Academy, where the philosophy of learning is that:

Clear thinking leads to good decisions,

Good decisions lead to the right habits,

The right habits lead to character, 

And character becomes destiny.

The little things add up over time so I'm trying to instill the habit of showing honor to others because I believe that those habits will form their character. This is what made our weekend of camping so special...the 1,179 displays of honor that our children showed to earn the trip! 🙂

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
- Aristotle

How our honor jar works (for anyone interested)...

The concept is that with each display of honor that child would earn a quarter, meaning a quarter would be taken out of their individual jar and put into the big combined 'honor' jar. When the honor jar was filled they would get to decide together on something really special that they all wanted to do. As this was intentionally a longer-term goal, in order to keep the motivation when they individually finished 40 quarters they would get a small treat and begin again with 40 quarters.

For our honor jar I try to catch the kids showing honor when they aren't thinking about it. However, at one point I had to question whether or not it was ok for one of my kids to earn an honor quarter if they simply did something for the purpose of getting a quarter. My gut instinct was "no, that's not the purpose." While that is true, it is not the purpose, it begs to question: what is the purpose? 

For me the purpose was to have them understand what it means to show honor and to form the habit of showing honor to others. So, with that reasoning, yes, once in a while my kids do earn a quarter for doing something that they are purposely doing to earn a quarter because over time I believe those little acts of honor will turn into things that they do without thinking about it. I fully believe, as stated above, "we are what we repeatedly do" (Aristotle) so I want those actions that my kids repeatedly do to be ones not only of kindness and caring, but happily going above and beyond what is expected.


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