Monday, July 29, 2013

On Doing the Right Thing

by James D Sutton

As a former teacher and a lifetime parent, I believe one of the most difficult things to teach young people is to do the right thing when there may be no payoff in sight. Sometimes the right thing is simply the right thing; period.

Earlier this week I was asked to be a pallbearer at the funeral of a woman I knew by name only. All of her family was living in various parts of the country.

Although I thought it a "different" sort of request, I agreed and did, indeed, carry her casket ... the casket of a person I didn't know. Interesting, huh?

Why would we do such a thing or, more specifically, why did I? I agreed to be a pallbearer for at least three reasons:

1. I have the deepest regard and respect for the person who called and asked me if I would be a pallbearer.

2. I was available to do it. Various circumstances prevented most of the other men from our small church to be a pallbearer. I was home still, getting ready for a trip to Kansas, but I was home and available.

3. It was simply the right thing to do. That, in and of itself, was enough.

I cannot tell you that taking on this little job was a hassle for me, because it wasn't. Nor could I tell you that doing it made me feel wonderfully warm and fuzzy inside. It didn't. It was simply the right thing to do, and that was enough.

In the grand scheme of things life got back to "normal" after a 90 minute diversion of carrying the casket of a stranger. There were calls to make and errands to run. I seriously doubt if I will even recall this action a few years from now.

But I'm very clear on the fact that, had I refused this request and others like it, I would have been a bit less as a person because of it. Sometimes doing the right thing is simply the right thing to do.

A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child.

He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people and their families, and every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website, http://www.DocSpeak.com.

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