We've looked at placing teens in a highly respected place and treating them as priceless treasures. Now let's turn our attention to a third way to communicate honor.

3. Demonstrate honor in your actions.

As we seek to communicate and teach honor to our teenagers, it's vital for us to understand that honor can't always be taught with words. Our kids must see it demonstrated in our actions. Thus, modeling is the best way to communicate honor.

Teenagers are incredibly perceptive about what we parents do. When it looks as if we value the house, job, car, or poodle more than them, our actions speak much louder than our words of love and honor.

I (Gary) had to continually remember the importance of modeling when my children were teenagers. They watched me all the time to see if my actions matched my words. One day while I was trying to take a nap, I learned a valuable lesson in this regard. I didn't want to be disturbed, so I had instructed my two boys to "leave me alone!" Looking back, that probably wasn't the best choice of words. It had the same effect as throwing fresh meat on the floor and instructing two puppies to "stay!" The problem was that my boys had seen me play plenty of practical jokes on others. I was in real trouble!

As I was sleeping comfortably in my chair, Greg and Michael determined this would be an excellent opportunity to give me a taste of my own medicine. They snuck up behind me and poured warm water down my throat as I lay snoring. As I started to choke and gag, the boys ducked behind my chair. Dazed from being forced out of deep sleep, I was confused about what I had just swallowed. Then it hit me. I'm hemorrhaging! I must be having a massive nosebleed!

To keep from dripping blood all over the floor, I cupped my hand over my face and ran toward the bathroom. After crashing into the coffee table and tripping over our dog, I finally made it to the sink. Because I didn't want to faint at the sight of all my blood, I slowly removed my hands and exposed … nothing.

Where's all the blood? I thought as I carefully surveyed my body. I was sure I had felt a large amount of liquid gushing down my throat, so I had anticipated seeing quarts of blood flowing from my nose.

"What's going on?" I yelled.

Then it dawned on me: "Where are Michael and Greg?"

When I returned from the bathroom, I heard snickering coming from behind the chair. "Get out here!" I ordered. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?" I challenged after they had moved into the open.

My first instinct was to ground the boys for a year, yell at them for being so "irresponsible," and finally shame them with a few choice words. After all, they'd almost given me a heart attack! But as I stood there facing them, I remembered all the times I had played jokes on them. It was fair turnabout.

As I was reminded that day, what we do as parents has a tremendous influence on our kids. In areas both trivial and vitally important, they imitate our behavior. Thus, if we want to help our teens learn how to honor God, others, and themselves, we must first demonstrate it. Before I really started to learn the significance of honor, I had to ask for forgiveness so many times. Finally, I realized that honoring my kids right off kept me from constantly needing to ask for forgiveness.

If your teenagers are to develop an appreciation of honor, they first need to see it in you. We're not saying they shouldn't honor people unless they're honored first. But it's a fact of life that teens (or any children) rarely do something they haven't first seen done by their parents. Common sense tells us this as well as the research literature. For example, the aggression children observe in their families while growing up influences the amount and type of aggression in their own marriages. Similarly, how people experience pain seems to be influenced by how important people in their lives have dealt with it.