Today I’m posting about something that has nothing to do with running. It’s a touchy subject, but I feel that it needs to be addressed.
As a woman, a mother, and a profession, respect is something that I require in my relationships. You don’t have to like me, and some people don’t, but if you meet me and speak with me, you will respect me. (That sounds like a threat, and it isn’t meant to – read it as “you’ll gain respect for me).
I could go on for HOURS about respect. For this post, however, I want to address respect when it comes to family; meaning parent to child, child to parent, parent to parent.
Respect starts at home. Answer me honestly… if someone is disrespectful to you, will you be respectful to that person in return? Probably not. If you are, there is most likely a hint of sarcasm or bitterness with the response you will give to the disrespectful person. A lot of parents that I talk to feel like they’re losing the battle for respect at home. At times, I feel that way with regards to my home. Is it possible, that your (and my) children aren’t showing you respect… simply because you aren’t respecting them? Children are sponges, especially during the early years of life. They see interactions between adults, and between adults and children, and emulate these interactions. Parents have a HUGE impact on their children, whether we admit that or not. We are the people that teach our children what kind of human beings they will end up being. (no pressure… well… actually… yea… PRESSURE!)
People tell you that in order to be a “good parent” you need to be friends with your children. You should treat them as equals. This isn’t entirely wrong, but… well… yea it’s wrong. When you as a parent are “friends” with your kids, you’re giving up the unique nature of your relationship – they have many friends, but only have 2 (or in my case 4) parents. Being your child’s friend is not your job. Your job is to teach your children, influence your children, and protect your children. Now, please understand, I’m not telling you that you aren’t able to be friendly with your kids. That not the case here at all. What I’m stressing is that your children need to understand the role that you have as the parent. They cannot (I repeat, CANNOT) treat you the way that they treat other children they are social with.
Gaining the respect of your children doesn’t mean you have to be a meanie head.
In fact, if you’re constantly yelling at your kids, stop it. A study was done recently on the long term effects of screaming at your children. The results of the study showed that regularly yelling at your kids is almost as detrimental as physically hurting them. Again, I’m not telling you that you aren’t allowed to raise your voice. What I’m suggesting is thinking before you yell. Like I mentioned earlier, kids mimic your behavior. You keep screaming, they’ll scream back.
- Example one: I was sitting on the couch with my kiddo (7 yr old) recently and my husband said something to him that kiddo didn’t like. Kiddo turns to husband and yells at him. Husband yells back. Kid responds. Back and forth and back and forth. *hands up* “Ok, stop” – Not a good environment for the kid, my husband, or me. I sat there as the conversation my boys were having spiraled into yelling and didn’t really know how to make it stop. What I was watching was a lack of respect. Neither of my boys respected each other during that moment.
- Example two: This morning, my husband very obviously rolled his eyes at me. (big deal right? Wrong.) This was disrespectful. What angered me more than the eye roll, was that he did it in front of my kiddo. The same kid that I’m trying to teach respect.
It’s difficult to teach respect to a child that sees disrespect in the household. So, what can we do? Unfortunately, 99% of the articles you’ll find that address teaching respect are geared towards children, not adults. My thought is to teach respect to adults in two ways;
- Show them respect FIRST
- Stop the disrespectful behavior immediately and bringing attention to it
As some adults have the minds of children (not talking about any adult in particular, just to clarify) it’s also possible that the way we teach children respect may work.
- Stay calm. Do your very best not to jump down the child (or adults) throat in response to the disrespect. It’s possible that the child/adult wasn’t paying attention to you, or that they don’t realize what they did was disrespectful.
- Figure out the cause. If your child (or adult partner) is being disrespectful to you, try and find out why. Are their needs being met? Are they exhausted, or in pain? (these aren’t excuses… just potential causes for the behavior). Teach the child/adult that there are other ways of expression that are respectful.
- Show respect. Just like I mentioned with the adult (points up) we can’t teach someone respect while being disrespectful. Allow your child/adult partner to make decisions and to express themselves.
- Positive reinforcement. As you teach your child/adult partner about respect, try not to resort to punishment. When you’re being disrespected, as much as possible, remain respectful back. In my example – when the kiddo and the husband were yelling back and forth – no one is winning. If one of the two in that conversation had shown respect, the conversation would have gone a completely different direction.
- Accept responsibility and apologize. In the second example that I mentioned – the eye roll from this morning – It’s very possible that my husband wouldn’t have reacted the way the he did if I’d apologized for what he thought I’d done wrong. (I forgot to ask someone for something *vague I know*) If I had said “Yea, I’m sorry I forgot to do that, I’ll do it now”, instead of saying “I haven’t asked”, he may have no rolled his eyes.
I hope you enjoyed reading my post today – and perhaps have learned something. I promise I’ll be back to writing about running soon. Happy trails! 🙂