This word especially offensive to Christians. That’s why I was so shocked to hear it coming out of the mouth of a devoted Christ follower. Sure, I’ve used the word before. And-old habits sometimes die hard-it still slips out once in awhile.
Of course, one could argue it isn’t the word per se but rather the anger that’s usually behind such a strong expletive. And a child who understands the power of this word wields great control over the parent.
There is nothing like disrespect, either real or perceived, that incites the concern (or wrath, if we’re really being candid,) like a snotty kid not paying mom and dad due homage.
Here are a few shrilly quotes from Yours Truly, “After all I’ve done for you, and you treat me like this!” Or “Get that tone out of your voice!”
Or how about this goody that I gleaned from a conversation overheard recently at the coffee shop, “Our kids can say anything to us as long as they’re respectful.” This was advice offered to a mom who was clearly at wit’s end with an angry child.
I wanted to climb over my dark roast and splash something on this sincere, but misguided counselor. I wanted to tell the hurting mom…It’s okay. Like those stupid bobble-headed dogs, I’ve nodded yes to the “as long as their respectful…” mantra as though it is the Holy Grail of the parenting experience.
I had pictured that one day, like Rocky Balboa running up the steps, arms held high in victory, my goal of being a parent was to have (cue to the Rocky Theme song,) Respectful Children.
Wooo-hoooo! I've conquered! My kids are RESPECTFUL!
Boy have I changed.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a Lord of the Flies environment. Nor am I talking about Manners 101 which needs to be taught. (Call me old fashioned but I miss the days of men removing their hats indoors. But I digress.)
Respect is about attitude. And I am convinced that genuine respect is not a practiced outward behavior but rather, the fruit of a healthy relationship.
Several years ago I first began re-thinking this when a friend of mine shared something that rocked my world. She found that whenever she was dealing with a negative behavior in her kids that quite often, God would highlight HER shortcomings in that very same area. Eg. Her kid has the bad habit of interrupting people and she realized she too had that tendency.
Ugh. That really punches a hole in the dictatorial “Because I’m the parent” model for parenting.
But back to respect. Here’s a typical scenario: Your kid misbehaves. You call them on it. And then they say, “Gee, Mom. Thanks for pointing that out. I see where you’re coming from and I’m going to work on that.”
Uh-huh. If you believe that, you should stop in here when it’s time to turn the Xbox off and we can share a hearty laugh.
Or even worse, there’s some serious issues brewing like what that mom in the coffee shop was dealing with.
I feel your pain, Rodney.
Truth is I get offended when I’m treated disrespectfully. And THEN the fun begins.
Here are some questions I consider when there’s disrespect in our home. First: What is the real issue?
Have I done something to provoke my kids to anger? Have I engaged in a power struggle with them instead of calmly allowing the circumstances of their poor choices to play out?
Or how about this: Am I being respectful to them and modeling the behavior I desire….even when I’m good and pissed?
I want my kids to understand that even when they’re snotty they are safe with me. Do they understand that I still love them unconditionally and our heart connection is more important than faux compliance?
I haven’t arrived by any means. Being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding thing a human can do.
One of the best rewards is that it gives me glimpses of God’s grace and lavish love for me. Even when I’m the one flaunting the D word.
Filed under: church life, parenting, Personal development | Tagged: disprespect, parenting, parenting with grace, respectful children | 4 Comments »