Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 2 – Duty

In this second installment of applying the Army values to the man’s role in the family living with autism, we delve into the value of duty. Webster defines duty as obligatory tasks or functions that arise from one’s position in life; a moral or legal obligation.

I like that definition.

    Obligatory

. Meaning, “you have to”.

    Moral

meaning, because its the “right” thing to do.

But, if you are anything like me, you absolutely HATE being told that you HAVE to do something (it’s a miracle I survive in the Army as I do, lol). I guess I have a little chip on my shoulder – a “thing” I have against authority I suppose.

The first thing that usually comes to mind when told to do something is what? Yep, you got it…”WHO SAY’S SO?” Meaning: By whose authority do you direct me to do _______?

With being a committed spouse and parent with a family living with autism, it will be necessary to remember those key words above: obligatory and moral. There are going to be times when both husband and wife throw up their arms and say, “I QUIT”, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE” usually in a fit of rage, frustration, misery or all of the above. This is completely ok and normal for all couple raising the autistic. And as long as both parents don’t do it at the exact same time and quit the same day, all will be fine!

My sense of duty to my family means that I have a moral obligation to do the right thing by my wife and my kids by being there for them, for the long haul. I am also driven by a higher power and in my heart I am compelled to fulfill my biblical duties as husband and father. Duty means that they come first. Not second. Not third.

First.

My sense of duty reminds me that I don’t have time to join a softball league while my wife is at home caring for our boys special needs. I don’t have time to participate in golf, bowling, darts or whatever league the guys may ask me to join. My duty is to home first. My duty is to be the best husband that I was designed to be, the best Dad I was designed to be. My duty keeps me out of these distractions. In the time I would spend participating in those types of activities is time I could spend relieving my wife so she can get time away and maintain her sanity, read a good book, get a walk in, or take a really long bath without distractions! If I’m following selfish pursuits I am taking time away from my duty. I need to read more, study more, research more, work harder to make an impact in my families life as well as the world around me. My wife is the lead caregiver on our team for our boys. She needs me to be at my best for her and our families sake. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t become a better husband, father or advocate by playing on the company softball team.

Your child’s autism requires you to live to a higher duty than the average person. You have to give more than the guy next door does to his family. That is just the way it is. I have accepted my dutiful charge. It is challenging. Many times I don’t feel like living up to my duty. But, I do it. And I find that when I do, I feel much greater joy in my life because I am living in tune with purpose in my life.

Obligation. The right thing to do.

My challenge for you today is are you fulfilling your duties to your special family? Are you focused on doing what’s right to fulfill the obligations you have as a husband and father? Do you invest as much time into your home duties as you do with your military duty (career). It is easy to spot where a man’s heart is. You just have to look where he spends most of his time.

Don’t get me wrong. I know we all have our duty at work to accomplish. Duty calls! And I’m not saying that both parents don’t need to exercise some alone time, or independent hobby time – within reason. That is the key. In your heart, ado you know that you are doing your best with your duty at home? It’s as easy as starting right now.

Ask your wife tonight, “Honey, is there anything I can do for you right now?”, or perhaps “Babe, I got the kids tonight, why don’t you disappear for a few hours and do your own thing.” Give the kids a bath without even asking or telling her you are going to do it. Cook dinner for once to relieve the burden.

Do the right thing.

I know you can and I know you will.

God bless,

Mike