Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Parenting Tips: Respect

When did kids stop respecting their parents? I was at the store last week and saw a pre-teen swearing at her mom. She was angry about something (probably because her mom said no) and the language that came out of her mouth was unbelievable. But what was more unbelievable was that the mom took it. Oh, she told the girl to stop...but her words weren't even convincing to me. The girl just rolled her eyes (a sign of contempt) and continued berating her mother. I don't know about you, but if I had tried that when I was a pre-teen I wouldn't be alive to tell about it today. When I was a kid all parents had to do was give the "look" and we knew we were in big trouble!

As I contemplated that scene in the store this week I became increasingly aware of some of the commercials on TV that show parents (particularly dads) as bumbling idiots. Some recent examples are the Staples commercial with mom and dad dressed up as cheerleaders while the kids look on in disgust. Or the cell phone commercial where dad says that if all 5 members of the family can call 5 other people for free then they can call 26 people for free.

We may laugh when we see these commercials (some of them ARE pretty funny), but they are an indication of how things have changed in our society. Parents don't command respect...and the world tells kids that their parents aren't to be respected.

So, what's a parent to do? Respect is one of the most important things you can teach your children. But remember that respect is not the same as obedience. Kids often obey because they are afraid, but if they respect you, they will obey because they know you love them and want what's best for them.

According to respect is "to hold in esteem or honor." Respect is an attitude. Teaching a child to act respectfully will help that child succeed in life. However, if children don't have respect for peers, authority, or themselves, it will be almost impossible for them to succeed.

Unfortunately many times parents don't get respect from their kids because a) they don't show respect TO their kids, or their spouse, and b) they are trying to be a friend to their child instead of a parent. It is difficult for a child to learn respect when they don't see it, or when they don't feel it. And it is difficult for a child to give respect to someone who is trying to please instead of putting up the boundaries that all kids need in order to feel loved and cared for.

Here are some tips for teaching your children respect:

1. Be honest
2. Be polite
3. Be reliable
4. Obey the laws
5. Say you're sorry
6. Provide opportunities to practice
7. Model good behavior
8. Prompt children to be polite
9. Watch television together and discuss disrespectful behavior
10. Teach the golden rule

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