"Ignoring a child's disrespect is the surest guarantee that it will continue." by Fred G. Gosman

Recently a mom wrote to us saying, “I’m having difficulty turning a deaf ear to the insulting disrespectful things that my child says to me repeatedly…” and asking for our advice.

When disrespect is a problem in the family, look first at who might be modeling this. Is mom disrespectful to dad? Is dad disrespectful to mom? Are members of the family respectful about how they ask for things? Is please and thank you heard a lot?

If all these things are in place and there is still the issue of the child being disrespectful to the parent, you have to make a big deal of this. Turning a deaf ear is not what you want to do. This does not let the child know that this kind of attitude and behavior is unacceptable; it might even set up the belief that you’re okay with it.

Sometimes we find ourselves allowing our kids to treat us the way no other human being would be allowed to treat us. Why do we do this? For their love? For their attention? For their friendship?

You have heard us talk before about not being your kid’s friend; they have their friends, and we, as parents need to have our own friends. Our kids cannot be our friends; we can have friendly moments with them, but we are not their friends. When they become adults, then we will have a friendship, but when they are kids, we need to be the parent.

Part of being the parent is helping them learn what’s acceptable behavior in the world. If they are disrespectful to you as the parent in any way, it’s your job to teach them that this is not okay. Draw a line of respect around yourself, and don’t let anyone cross it, including your kids. You would not let anyone else talk to you in this way, so why are you letting your child treat you this way? You have to model this respect by not only respecting yourself, but also by how you treat others and how you treat members of your family.

You may need to go so far as to stop the conversation and maybe even leave the room or the house when the child becomes disrespectful. Remember, disrespect is an attitude and attitudes can be changed. When it starts, take some action to indicate that the attitude is unacceptable and the conversation is over until the attitude changes. Remember, the more you talk the more you lose, especially with teens!