A few years ago, my son approached someone at my in law’s and asked “May I have a drink please?”
My sister in law stated to me afterwards, “I wish my son asked for a drink like Alex does!”
(First: my kid is far from perfect. There are times I think “Child, do you even remember the manners I’ve taught you?”)
But that got me thinking. Our children say what we say, they mimic us as parents.
Don’t want your kids to swear? Then you don’t.
Don’t want your kid to be rude and unkind? Make sure you aren’t either.
It’s not perfect, you still must invest and teach, correct and discipline. I have high expectations for my children. Maybe it’s how I was raised though, in part. Maybe it’s all the observing I’ve done, the sadness I feel when moms actually seem to regularly dislike their kids.
It blows my mind how full grown adults act sometimes.
Respect doesn’t come naturally. And while love should be the main feeling growing up, for many folks that is not true. I grew up in a home with high expectations, where we lost our parents trust and respect when we crossed certain lines. I am not being critical of their approach, but that was how we were raised.
Respect is taught. And I am not sure why more people don’t teach it, because it’s nonstop complaining where their children don’t respect them. Maybe it’s a vicious cycle, disrespect and not knowing how to approach teaching it. I think that’s the case, because if I’m being honest, I struggle to teach my sons.
I will use personal examples because it’s not my job to judge or be harsh towards others.
Alex and Callan are so different. Even in the parenting style I use. But I had to grow quite a bit in recent years and months in my approach. I’m a yeller. Easily frustrated, especially when things don’t go the way I picture them going.
And let’s be honest, as a mom to two very amazing but b.u.s.y boys, things rarely go according to “plan”.
Friday evening we had supper with a new couple. As I fussed about what to wear and bemoaned my weight, my husband reminded me: “Babe, let the boys be boys. I know that works you up, but don’t let it ruin your night.”
This man I married, he is amazing. And sometimes I dislike how right he is, but I’m glad he is willing to express to me that hey, just relax and let’s enjoy our evening.
Our evening contained hangry kids, adults who are amazed at how alike out kids are, and a mutual feeling of “ahhhhhh they get it” and no stress from me.
(I got way off point there, didn’t I? Welcome to life with me, I can never seem to stay on topic!)
Respect is taught. I have needed to learn how to relate to my son. He is so much like me. Yet his eager to please and serve heart, warms mine. I’m learning to talk things through, be consistent, and willing to humble myself to admit my wrong doings. Not easy. Respect is taught. And the biggest teacher is YOU as the parent. It’s the words you say, when you think your child isn’t listening.
We all have a sin nature, this is true. And while some are not as resistant to authority, some of us really struggle with that. Me. I’m talking about me.
I remember as a girl the police came to our home, looking for my brother. I remember squeezing the metal pole of the swing set, saying the bad “f” word, my knuckles white and feeling defensive of the brother who had by his words taught me that hate.
As I grew, I bumped heads with various authority figures. Not because I intentionally wanted to disrespect them but because I didn’t understand. Their responses, their punishments only added to the growing pile of stuff that created a spirit that still struggles to understand and respect authority.
Let me add: I don’t blame anyone. I take responsibility for my sins. I am simply sharing that the words we say, the actions.. We have an impact on the ones watching us and learning from us!
Alex learned disrespect from me early on. I am ashamed of that. I struggled and complained. And one day, I realized so I started changing my responses.
I’ve had several great books recommended to me. All of which I bought but have not read. Yet. I will.
Here are a few tips I am using in teaching respect to my boys:
– I ask about Alex’s day each day, twice. When he first gets off the bus. And again at the table, when we eat supper and Lamar is also there. We ask questions and maybe “read into” his responses a bit.
– I am honest if I am having a bad day and need a bit of space, so to speak. That happens rarely. And I never go fully into the why. I’ll simply say “hey I’ve had a rough day. I’d love if you and Callan could try really hard to play quietly and nicely and respectfully so I can reset for a little bit.”
– I encourage him, speak life. If he is frustrated at himself, I make him pause and recite: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” This particular point is an effort for me. Again, I am easily frustrated and sometimes I think “WHY DON’T YOU GET THIS?!” but it isn’t helpful, or respectful of me to say that. Unless I can say it nicer and ask him to identify why he’s struggling.
– reminding him that what goes around, comes around. Which is easy because he has a two year old brother. Alex called Callan a name (nothing bad) and it immediately came back seven fold!
– demonstrating respect. I grew up in a conservative Mennonite home, ladies ONLY wore dresses. As an adult who is no longer of that church, I absolutely love the freedom I have to wear jeans! But when I go home, I wear only skirts. Could I do differently? Yes. Is it worth the heartache? No.
I love people, but I have strong opinions about things on occasion. But I’m learning to be careful in how I word myself and the attitude I display. I’ve seen full grown adults throw “hissy fits” and let me tell you, it’s shocking. Then their kids do it and they wonder why.
It’s like standing in the rain and complaining when you get wet.
We want the next generation of voters, leaders, grown ups to be successful and lead well, right? Then we must also.
My final tip:
– Be engaged and current in their lives. Know them. Their love language, their body language, their facial expressions. We knew Alex was facing trouble at school long before he told us because of his body language, his dejected state. Ask them but give them space to answer. Love them. At all times. Never ever manipulate by taking your affection for them, from them.
Never take your love for your child away from your child. They need it. Even at their most unlovable moments.
Know your child and their friends. Advocate for your child when things go wrong. Be consistent with discipline. Don’t reward disrespect or laugh at it because it’s aimed at someone you also dislike. Its far less funny when it comes back to you.
Please remember also, it’s never to late to start over. I lost my son’s respect for awhile because of my own hurts and selfishness. And gaining his trust and respect has not been easy, but I’m glad.
Allow your child to be honest with you even if it hurts, but only respectfully and in a healthy manner.
As always, forgive the scattered thoughts. Lately my brain and I can’t seem to connect as well. Haha