When Sir Archibald Southby questioned Randolph Churchill’s war record, he hadn’t meant anything personal. In fact, right after, he tried to shake Winston Churchill’s hand, intending to explain it away as just politics.
No such thing existed to the Churchills. “Do not speak to me,” Winston Churchill told the man coldly. “You called my son a coward. You are my enemy. Do not speak to me.”
Now Randolph Churchill was not perfect, but that wasn’t going to stand in the way of his father standing up for him, having his back. Nor should it ever prevent us. Churchill’s own father had not supported or believed in his son. Winston, deciding, as we’ve said, to do better, would not make that same mistake. He backed his son. He fought for him. He let him know he could always be counted on.
We have to do the same. Our kids are going to screw up, but they need to know we’ll never write them off. Our kids need to know that we’ll take their side, that we’ll fight for them, that we’ll never let anyone wrongly abuse or attack them without hearing from us about it.
That is our most basic duty as parents, one made even more profound if we didn’t experience that kind of support from our parents when we were kids.
To be sure, this doesn’t mean burying our heads in the sand and pretending like our kids can do no wrong. It doesn’t mean levying no consequences for bad behavior. It simply means supporting them and being there for them when they stumble, when they screw up, when they’re learning, and yes, when they’re attacked.
It’s letting them know that they’re good, that we love them, and that we will always be there, standing right behind them.
In failure and success, in support and defense.