Integrity Matters
June 21, 2006

By listening, parents helped save the day

Question: (E-244)

Dear Jim:

Please tell us if what we did reflected integrity? Here is what happened and how we responded:

Our "special" son, now 19, was born with certain learning and behavioral challenges. Hoping he might finish grade school, we were thrilled when he completed high school, able to play on the varsity tennis team! Wanting to share his success with friends and neighbors, we planned a graduation party for June 11, sending invitations in early May.

On the morning of May 22, at 3 a.m., I felt a tug, and it was our son, saying, "Mom, we need to talk about the party. Please call it off." I suggested we talk at breakfast, but he shook his head, saying we needed to talk, now. So, we did.

He was uncomfortable with many of the people who were coming to the party. They were neighbors, friends and some of his peers. He wanted the party canceled. Not wanting his accomplishment to go by without a celebration, I asked if he would tell us who he would invite. He agreed, creating his list. In the meantime, my husband and I contacted those we had invited, asked for their understanding, telling them the party was just for our son's close friends.

Among his invited guests:

  • The woman who cleans our home.
  • The gentleman who sold him his car.
  • A thoughtful crossing guard from years earlier.
  • An assistant manager of a fast-food restaurant.
  • The high school librarian.
  • Our general contractor and two of his assistants who built our home - sometimes sharing part of their lunches with him.
  • His fifth-grade teacher, who helped him improve his reading and classroom behavior.

And the list goes on.

At the party that he orchestrated, he was confident and the perfect host, introducing all of the guests.

He blossomed, yet again. Most of his invited guests brought their families and smiles were seen everywhere. My husband and I beamed - for and with our son.

However, we had not kept our word to those original invited guests we canceled. We violated the character definition. What do you think?


Yes, proud parents, you listened, took a few risks and created an environment that truly was directed to the person for whom the celebration was intended, your son.

Sounds like you have a special family, in lots of ways - combining charity, graciousness and character to achieve integrity.

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