At the top of the list of things that make me cringe is a disrespectful child. Have you ever gone out to a restaurant for a peaceful evening with your family and a few tables away sits “that family?” You know the family I’m talking about. That family who’s meal time conversation is filled with a battery of threats and refusal, tit for tat, blow for blow, tort for retort. It’s that family you try to ignore because they stand a good chance of ruining your meal, your family time, and you fear your kids might take a cue from that “very cool” brat you will have to deal with later……hopefully not in a similar public context.
Read this carefully so I am not misunderstood. I think it can be disastrous for parents to force their kids to respect them, however, kids should be expected to treat their parents, and all adults for that matter, with respect. Did you catch the difference there? Respect is something that is earned. A parent must earn the respect of their child. This is the same as saying a parent must earn the right to be looked up to, admired for some trait, placed in the position of role model, and so forth. However, this is different from a parent’s expectation of their children to SHOW them respect. Are you still with me?
Certainly a parent should be both worthy of respect as well as expecting the demonstration of respect, but for the purposes of this article I will stay with the latter point. Indeed to expect such a demonstration without being respectable causes problems too, but we will stay with the latter point for the moment. Children are greatly cheated when parents allow them to “express themselves” or otherwise “act their age” with regards to how they communicate with their elders.
Children live in a world of people they will need to treat with respect in order to survive. One day they will have a boss who will expect respect in order to be hired or keep the job. Much sooner, they will have school teachers who will expect respect in order to stay out of trouble. Immediately, friends will expect respect in order to maintain the status of “friend.” While we can talk later about following rules, showing respect may be the difference between a speeding ticket and something much harsher.
It saddens me greatly, no, it ticks me off that so many of today’s parents do not expect a showing of respect from their kids. I regularly see kids who” back talk their parents,” yell at their parents, hit their parents, run from their parents, or other such insanity and then I watch the parent act as if this nonsense is somehow “normal.” By allowing this I ask what are you really teaching your child? I don’t think the lesson that takes hold is that they are individuals capable of self-expression or some other silly pop-psychology trend that may be applied.
Honestly, it is just sloppy, lazy parenting. Parenting is hard, it is supposed to be, it has to be and teaching your children how to operate in the world is part of it. Saint Paul makes this point well in Ephesians 6:1-3(NLT),. “ Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”
Why would you hope your daughter will listen to you about sleeping with some “hot guy” when she hasn’t learned to listen to you about being rude. Why would your son listen to you about “keeping it between the lines and never while drunk” if he hasn’t been expected to listen to you about cleaning his room. I won’t even go into the point of Christian parent’s responsibility to teach their kids the “golden rule.” Simply look at the flip side, children who are not taught to show respect to their parents will not respect their friends, their siblings, their parent’s friends, their teachers, their community’s authorities, their dates, their spouses, their kids, their employer…
Have you ever noticed how you just don’t want to spend your time with a brat? Are you teaching your kids to be a brat, or are you teaching them to be honorable by teaching them to be respectful? Here is a fail proof litmus test. Do other people seem to want to spend time with your kids? Do they ever compliment you on how your kids behave? One more scary point to ponder if you realize your kids are not respectful…………………are they following your example?