Respect: Give It to Get It

Continuing our focus from the parenting webinar on December 15th – Take Hold and Let Go – I thought I would publish some of the answers to the questions that did not get answered.

If you have more questions as you look at taking hold and letting go in your life and with your kids, please send them to me: phardy@hyde.edu.

Parent Question: “What if the child says, ‘I won’t respect you until you respect me.’?”

If this comment from your child comes at you in the heat of battle, you are probably not going to want to deal with it at that moment because you feel the child is being disrespectful to you. Don’t engage in this argument at this time if it’s heated. Instead, tell your child that you’re both too upset / angry / whatever the emotion is at the time, and that you’d like to come back to this later.

Then, when emotions in each of you are calmer, be willing to take a look at what your child is saying to you. Be willing to look at yourself through their eyes and learn where the comment is coming from. You might ask, “during our argument yesterday, you said that I was not respectful to you. Tell me what you see in me that made you say that.”

This approach does not mean the child is right; nor does it mean that it’s okay for them to disrespect you. (To be clear: You also want to make sure your child is not saying “I’ll respect you when you let me do what I want.”) But you want to be sure that you’re not modeling the very attitude and behavior that you’re trying to change in your child. If, in his or her explanation about why your child feels disrespected, there is some justification about his or her feelings of lack of respect, own up to that and have the humility to apologize and commit to trying to work on yourself.

If, after examining your conscience to find out if what your child is saying is justified, you come up with an honest  “no, it’s not,” then move forward in your parenting with the assurance that you are not modeling disrespect for your child.

Sometimes as parents, it’s our tone that comes off as disrespectful because we are speaking from a place of fear, guilt, or control in trying to get our kids to listen or to do what we want. Perhaps it’s the tone that the child is objecting to? Remember, you’re human; you’re going to make mistakes in your parenting. Have the humility to apologize where it’s warranted. By doing this, you’re modeling humility as well as respect.