THE VALUE OF MUTUAL RESPECT
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
One of the most important attributes to acquire in life is that of respect. I am sure we all know the true meaning of the word respect. It means to honor others, to show polite regard and consideration, and to be courteous. As adults we learn from experience that we will do much better in life - in our jobs, in our families, with our friends, in sports teams and in society in general - when we are considerate and polite to others.
We teach our kids what respect looks like at home. It means we speak kindly to each other, we take turns, we share chores and we do kind things for others just to show we care for them. We use quiet voices inside the house so we do not annoy others.
Not only do we need to respect others, but we also need to show consideration for their stuff. This means we look after things we borrow and give them back promptly. If we damage another person’s property then we fix it or pay for its replacement. We must also look after our own stuff. It costs money to buy toys, bicycles, Ipads and the like and it is respectful to parents for us to look after the gifts they give us.
When we are disrespectful there should be consequences. This is how we learn that positive actions create mutual respect between people. Disregard for others or their stuff creates animosity and ultimately distrust. There may come a time when friendships are lost, jobs terminated or gifts confiscated. Kids need to understand and experience the consequences of disrespect.
We should require respect from our children, but perhaps we forget that we have equal responsibility to be respectful to them. Respect is earned. Sure, it is our responsibility to teach our kids to honor us as well as all authority figures, but that honor will not be truly learned until we demonstrate it in all aspects of our own lives.
Our kids are carefully watching us. Only yesterday I was speaking to my daughter on the phone. Her three year old wanted her attention. I heard her explain to him that he must not interrupt Mommy while she is on the phone. She said, “If you want to talk to me when I am already talking to someone else, you must hold my hand and wait till I tell you it is your turn to talk to me.” She held up her finger as she said, “Wait.” A little while later my husband phoned and was enjoying a conversation with the same grandson when Mommy came up and started to say something to her little boy. He held up his finger! It was funny at the time, but it does illustrate the point that what is good for one person has to be good for the other, no matter what the age. Respect must be mutual.
I am not undermining parental authority. Parents are the managers of the home and the rules and expectations they create for their families should go without challenge, unless the difference of opinion is discussed kindly. There is no excuse for parents to be rude to one another or to their children. There has to be consistency or the value of respect will not stick.
As our kids become teens it is tempting to want to be their friend instead of their parent. They already have plenty of friends. They want you to be their mentor, their parent, their guardian and for you to guide them. It is mutual respect that will make the relationship between you strong. The key to whether you have a lifelong friendship with your kids is simply, mutual respect.
If you have any comments on this subject, we would be pleased to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com
Or purchase our book ‘Kids don’t come with Manuals’ from our website.