Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 1 – Loyalty

You have to love the military and its use of acronyms. There is one for everything! As a matter of fact, the seven Army Values can even be easily remembered as an acrostic, where the beginning letter of each value spell out LDRSHIP (or leadership). I have these words posted up on 8X10s near my desk for all to see. As I happen to be deep in tough I was really meditating on those words and couldn’t help but think of my role as a husband, father, Army leader and lead advocate for our boys and the special needs they have. I thought I’d take a moment and try to remember and capture some of the thoughts I had earlier today. I’ll have to take one value at a time as I know that I am going to get on a rant, and I don’t want to write a thesis!

Now, for some of you this may be some pretty direct stuff. Much of this will probably challenge you greatly. No one is harder on me than, well, me! I demand more of myself than anyone else does. I work hard to self-discipline my mind, heart and will to conform to a higher order of operation. So, when you are reading some of these below remember that I am telling them just as much to myself personally to remind myself of my God-given charge in life in these roles above. If at any point, I start to raise your blood pressure and tick you off, then just tell yourself that I’m writing this for the other guy reading this…not you. Savvy? Ok, here goes…

LOYALTY

To be loyal one has to have trust and commitment in the long term. It is the attitude of being sold out. To be wholly committed to the cause without the possibility of a wandering eye toward other people, goals or pleasures. Loyalty continues through the good and the bad and endures the sways of short term thoughts, feelings and activities. The best example I can think of is the family dog. That dog is loyal to his master. He eagerly awaits the return home from work, and he does this everyday! He could have been scolded or punished the night before, but right now that doesn’t matter. He can’t wait for his master’s return. He may get distracted momentarily with playing with the kids or to gnaw on a bone, but as soon as he here’s the garage door! It’s ON! HE’S HOME! And as soon as the master walks in the door, his faithful and loyal dog is there to greet him with happiness. Right, wrong or indifferent, that dog expresses loyalty.
I have absolute loyalty to my family. There is nothing that could lead me astray or pull me away from the loyalty I have for the bond with my wife and role as a father. I am loyal to my wife. I don’t look at other women and certainly never put myself in compromising positions in work or life to threaten this. And when we have disagreements, arguments and fights (yes, there are levels of escalation) I remain loyal to my wife. If we’re having an argument it is a 90% chance I am to blame for it anyway! I am so disappointed how many married men I work with that can’t resist that gaze they give to women. That lustful, improper gaze. Like loyalty, being disciplined in your thought-life is a choice to make daily. See, men were designed with free will. It is a choice to remain loyal to your wife. It is a choice to remain loyal to your autistic kids. Being loyal makes life that much easier. When you are committed with 100% of your heart and mind to the total welfare and care of another person and are sold out in common cause to the responsibilities in life that you share together, then it is a choice you only have to make one time! I don’t want to hear about how it’s OK to look. Sorry, it’s not. Would any man prefer to have their wife staring and perhaps fantasizing about total strangers when he is not around? Worse yet, when he is right there! Just the thought alone makes you question your loyalty. When the decision has been made to be loyal, then it is easy to discipline those thoughts to just say no when tempted. Same goes for the kids. I am loyal to my children. I will never leave them, their mother or put them in a position where I am not their #1 fan and caregiver. Autism makes life extremely difficult – almost maddening at times. Your wife, your kids, deserve your loyalty. A wise friend once told me shortly after I started my family that I “no longer live life for myself.” How true that is. It is so sad to hear about father’s who give up on the autistic family – abandon their wife. Chicken out. Wimp out. Wuss out. What kind of cowardly man believes that he can just walk away from his responsibilities and leave a wife to cope alone and children to not have a strong, loving, caring father to assist with the development. Shame on those cowards. My family can count that I will never be that man. I love and embrace the challenge. They can count on my loyalty as long as there is breathe in my body. I will always be there for my wife and for my boys.

If you have been struggling with loyalty to your wife and/or family, please reach out to me. I’d love to try to help you. Perhaps provide some encouraging words or share with you ways that I strengthen my commitment in life. Military men understand loyalty to country. I encourage you to show that same level of faith and commitment to your special needs family at home. They deserve it!

In Advocacy,

Mike