Is respect given, or is it earned?
Should we demand respect from our children? Should we teach them how to grant respect to us?
Do we automatically get respect our children or have them earn it from day one? These are important questions all parents should ask themselves.
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Should Parents Have to Earn Respect?
There’s a baseline of respect parents deserve from their kids because you’re the ones who gave birth to them, are raising them, and paying their bills. There’s a deeper level of respect parents don’t get by default but instead have to earn it.
That deeper level of respect is primarily what we’ll talk about in this article because there was a time when respect wasn’t earned from parents. It was given by virtue of having power over the children.
Today we know that children have to learn to respect their parents before they can learn to respect themselves. Earning their respect teaches them that they have value.
As your kids get older, that baseline respect goes away. When your kids become adults, and you’re not paying their bills, you won’t have that baseline respect anymore. Instead, you would have needed to have earned their respect.
How Parents Can Earn Respect From Their Kids
Parents need to earn respect from their children because that’s how they learn the value of respecting others and themselves. It’s how kids learn what it takes to be a respectable person.
Teaching by example is arguably the best way for young children to learn. Luckily, earning respect from a young person is not as difficult as it sounds.
1. Treat Others With Respect
Showing your child how to be respectful starts with modeling. Your children will watch how you interact with your spouse, your friends, servers at restaurants, and other drivers on the road.
Interact with kindness and consideration whenever possible. Your kids will notice, and they will begin to emulate you.
2. Always Be Honest
I don’t lie to my children. I have never told them that a vaccine isn’t going to hurt or that their pet goldfish went to sleep in the toilet.
Some lies are thought to be more kind than the truth, but I find they breed distrust. My children know they can always trust every word I say. They have faith in me, which is something I cherish. When you’re truthful with your kids, they are more likely to be honest with you.
3. Really Listen When they Speak
We are all guilty of not listening when someone else is talking. It’s only natural for your mind to wander after 15 minutes of a four-year-old’s story about this cool rock they saw.
Still, listening to children teaches them that they’re important. It also teaches them how to be active listeners.
Show that you are listening by asking questions (“What color was the rock?”) and using repetition (“It was grey with sparkles? How pretty!”).
4. Admit When You Are Wrong
Nobody wants to be wrong. None of us like admitting it or relish the thought of being faced with our own errors.
Still, admitting to a mistake is one of the best modeling behaviors you can exhibit for your children. Show them that it’s okay not to be perfect. Explain to them how you can learn from your mistakes and, if they are caught in the crosshairs of your error, apologize.
Far too many people think an apology is a sign of weakness when in fact, it can be a sign of self-assuredness and respect for another person.
5. Spend Quality Time Together
It’s not always easy to spend quality time with your family. It gets even more difficult as the children grow. Still, make that time a priority. Between work, school, and extra-curricular activities, it might be hard to squeeze in an extra five minutes each day just to talk.
However, if you start young, it becomes a part of the daily routine. It can be as simple as reading a picture book or asking an older child about their day. Consider a family hobby for something a little more time-consuming. Frisbee golf, mountain biking, board games, and baking are just a few fun activities families can enjoy together as the kids get older.
Just make sure the quality time is fun for everyone, not just the adults.
6. Ask for Opinions and Input
My children don’t get the final say in important decisions, but they do have a voice. A good example is vacations.
A couple of years ago, my daughter said all she wanted was to go to the beach. My son said he wanted to go to the city and hopefully meet a celebrity. Our trip to Las Vegas, with an excursion to Los Angeles and Port Hueneme Beach met all of their needs (and we saw not one but two celebrities when we toured a movie studio).
The kids know they are respected when their wishes are heard and heeded, though it’s important not to cave to every whim. When my daughter said she wanted to go to the moon, I had to say no.
7. Have a Reason for Your Rules
My children are allowed to question rules and demands. They are always allowed to ask why anything is asked of them.
The rule the parents have is that we have to be able to give a clear, solid reason. We are not allowed to say the dreaded, “because I said so.” You should rethink any rules that don’t have solid reasoning.
Arbitrary rules only make you look power-hungry, which isn’t something anyone respects.
Respect is Important
Respect is important, but it’s not a given. Be a parent that receives respect not because you insist on it but because you deserve it. Your kids will be all the better for it.
Agree? Disagree? Differing opinion? Let us know in the comments.