BOSTON — A Boston father woke up early to help his young sons shower their mother with love, gifts and gratitude on her birthday.
Not entirely unheard of, until you get this small detail: The couple is divorced.
Billy Flynn wants his sons to understand the importance of treating women well, even when a relationship goes south. He saw his ex-wife's birthday as the perfect opportunity for an object lesson and posted about the experience on his Facebook page.
"I got up early and brought flowers and cards and a gift over for the kids to give her and helped them make her breakfast," he wrote in the post.
While Flynn wrote that he does this type of thing on the regular, he said he's always surprised by the reaction it elicits from some.
"Per usual someone asked me why the hell I still do things for her all the time," he wrote. "This annoys me."
The answer, Flynn wrote, is simple.
"I'm raising two little men. The example I set for how I treat their mom is going to significantly shape how they see and treat women and affect their perception of relationships," he wrote in the post, which was picked up by the "Love What Matters" Facebook group.
Flynn's message has resonated in a big way. Since his words were reposted on Sunday, the post has garnered more than 600,000 reactions and 175,500 shares.
Inspired by Flynn's post, thousands of people have shared their stories of friendship and love in the face of divorce.
"My ex and I have always put our daughter first," one commenter wrote. "Her dad and I even do a date night with the ex once a year and travel from CT to NJ for her sorority fundraiser. It kept her whole… You are doing a great thing for your kids."
"Currently taking care of my ex-husband while he recovers from a minor stroke," another wrote. "Hopeful that our two little boys, through witnessing this, will understand that compassion isn't selective."
Flynn told Today he's glad his story is inspiring other divorced parents to maintain a respectful relationship for their children's sake.
"I'm not saying everyone needs to help the kids make breakfast, but the message people are getting is that you can show each other respect and care in front of the kids, and help the kids care for that parent, regardless of how you feel about each other," he said.
Divorce, Flynn writes, isn't easy, but it's up to the parents to keep the ugly side away from those most vulnerable.
"Rise above it and be an example," his post reads. "This is bigger than you. Raise good men. Raise strong women. Please. The world needs them, now more than ever."