Eleven years after her parents’ divorce, my friend’s 14-year-old daughter kindly honoured her less-than-perfect dad. A male acquaintance had asked, "So what kind of dad is your father?"

Without missing a beat and without bitterness or rancour, this tender teen innocently replied, "Well, he’s a great shopping partner!"

Finding something positive

My friend and this man laughed at the honest response. Of all the statements she could have made about her dad not showing up for visitation, not supporting her financially, and not making any attempts to be part of her successes and celebrations, she still found something to say that was positive.

Sure, she and her sister knew the truth. Their father hadn’t been a good dad. There hadn’t been a lot to respect given his choices and his lack of follow-through. Still, their mom made it clear that her girls were in control of their responses to their father. They needed to respect his position even if they couldn’t respect his choices.

Lack of bitterness

Close onlookers marvel at how both of the now-adult daughters lack bitterness toward their dad. It is due to their mom’s wise and prayerful approach toward her ex-husband.

Over the years, my friend determined to let her daughters make up their own minds about him, while setting appropriate boundaries and living a higher standard herself. Every child can be taught to offer the gift of honour and respect to their parent(s) even when said adults are lacking in personal integrity. This true story of triumph over tragedy is one that all parents can take to heart and learn from.

Michele Howe is the author of several books on single parenting.

© 2009 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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