Have you ever paused and asked yourself if you respect your child? In the middle of their moment – are you responding in ways that shows respect to them? Is that possible – is it even necessary? I believe it is. In fact I believe that respect is a cornerstone for heart-focused parenting. Listen in as I talk about what respect is, what it isn’t, and how it impacts your family.
Respect is the acknowledgment that the other person is precious, made in the image of God. Respect is the decision to act with that in mind.
We need to respond to our children – even in their most unloveable moments – with respect – because even in that moment God loves them. God created them. Jesus died for them. And Jesus calls us to love them, as he loved us – while we were sinners, while we were pulling against Him, and His rule in our life – He loved us. He asks us to love our children in the same way.
What Respect is Not
There is a modern thought that our children are our equals and they are to have equal privileges and rights as an adult. God’s ways teaches us that though we are to respect all persons, there is a different honour and position that comes with age and experience. So when I’m talking about respecting our children, I’m not talking about elevating them to your peer. They are not your equal in maturity – we show them respect because we show all people respect because all people are created in God’s image. So it is a different type of respect – it isn’t making them equal but it is acknowledging that they are made in God’s image and are precious.
I’m talking about the respect of their personhood. Our children are people. They aren’t a sub-category, a subclass, they aren’t less than – they are created people. And as a person, they have all the capacities we as adults do. In that way, we are the same. We both (parents and child alike) have the capacity to know God, make moral choices, have feelings, make friends, learn and do things. This is how God has made us as humans. And as such, we act with respect toward each other.
4 Benefits of Parenting with Respect
Not only is treating our children with respect (which looks like love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, etc) an act of obedience to Jesus – there will be very tangible effects as your children grow up in a family where respect is the norm.
- Showing respect in a relationship is usually reciprocated – it goes both ways – so you’ll see your children responding to you with respect (within their capabilities and development) – So respect becomes the foundation of your relationship.
- Showing respect paves the way to being heard – it is a part of that reciprocating – if you are respectful and listen to them, they will listen to you.
- Showing respect creates a place for conflict resolution – which not only mends relationships in your family, it teaches your children how to relate to others when things get sticky. So you become an example, a role model for healthy relationships.
- Showing respect builds up the other person’s self-esteem – as we acknowledge the personhood of each person in our family, that is how they start to see themselves – as a person worthy of respect, because God loves them, and their parents love them!
Showing our kids respect – that is treating them like a person (a person made in the image of God) becomes a cornerstone of how we parent. We speak with respect, we react with respect, we teach with respect, we correct with respect, and we have fun together with respect.
Respect is a Boundary you must not cross
It doesn’t matter what season of parenting you are in – whether you have a toddler throwing tantrums or a teenager throwing tantrums (same attitude though it looks different!) your response always needs to be within the bounds of respect.
I remember talking to our kids that as you get older you still have limitations or boundaries to live with. Rules so to speak aren’t just for kids. As an adult, I live within the boundaries of what is right – be it within the law, within my own values, or within God’s ways. I’m not free to do whatever I like just because I’m an adult.
And this is what I’m talking about in terms of us as parents responding with respect. It is a value – built on God’s word – that says I am to treat people with care, honour, deference, consideration, love – or in other words Respect. And this shapes how we treat our children.
You speak kindly.
You act with restraint.
You consider their feelings.
You consider the circumstances before we respond.
This does not mean you give in to them. I’m not talking about the kids ruling the roost. At the same time of being held to the standard of responding with respect, you are also given the job of teaching and training your children so they can respond to life – so there will be conflict because that is the nature of your children growing up with abilities to make choices. The key is in how you respond.
Giving in to your child, giving them what they want, elevating them to your peer, and avoiding all conflict is not respect. Its complacency.
This is why respect is such an important response for parents to understand. It is about how you respond to your child – regardless of the circumstances, you respond in ways that always considers them as precious.
Respect Builds Relationship
Respect is the foundation, the starting place, for a relationship with anyone – including with our child. I think a healthy relationship is defined by each person taking responsibility for their interactions with the other person.
How we respond is always our responsibility. And as a parent, we are teaching our children to be responsible for their heart, and their choices. It’s a journey – but that is ultimately what we are teaching them. So we have to lead the way in learning to respond appropriately ourselves.
5 Easy Ways to Check if you are Parenting with Respect:
- You listen to your child – being fully present – physically and emotionally.
- You use your manners when you engage with your child.
- You have self-control when they frustrate you.
- You speak in ways that build up not tear down.
- You apologise, and restore your relationship when you’ve done the wrong thing towards your child.
Heart Focused Action Step
Take a moment for a quick heart-check – and ask yourself, and be honest – do you respect your child? Here are some questions to ask – and you’ll find them written out in the ShowNotes on my website.
Do you see your child as a person? Or do you treat them different because they are a child not an adult?
On a scale of 1-10, how are you responding to your child – with respect or with disrespect?
When you slip into disrespect (if you do) what are the circumstances that shape your poor choices? Your circumstances, and your child’s circumstances?
Your answers aren’t to be excuses – there are no excuses, just understanding the circumstances so you can see the triggers and change your reactions.
We can all learn to change how we respond to people. We can stop with the yelling, and name calling, and ignoring or controlling. We can start talking and listening, and valuing. It starts with us hearing ourselves and acknowledging that we are doing something that we don’t want to be doing.
So be honest with yourself when you consider how you are doing – not to sink yourself into a pit of despair thinking you are a terrible parent. That is never ever my intention – I simply don’t believe it to be true. You aren’t listening to this podcast unless you have the intention to improve your parenting. So it is about saying – this is where I am – but that is where I want to be. What do I need to do to get there? That is the thinking process you need to go through to grow as a parent.
Well, that’s it for this week. Can I ask you to share this episode with your mum-friends? One simple way to do that is to take a screenshot of the podcast player – share it on your social, tag me @belindaletchford on Instagram and @heartfocusparenting on Facebook and tell me what you were doing while listening. This helps me connect with you as a listener and shares heart-focused parenting with your friends. And if you aren’t on social – send me an email and let me know where you are and what you were doing when you were listening in.
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Do you believe we should show good manners towards our children? Yes or no?
To me, it is a matter of respect and common courtesy. They are a person made in God’s image, and therefore I need to show respect.
Good manners are a social construct, dictated to by our culture – so they aren’t Biblical in that sense – but they are the way we commonly see love, respect, honour being shown to others (and that is a Biblical idea!)
What do you think? If you disagree, let me know why. And if you agree – what manners do you think are important?
If we want our children to believe who God says they are then we need to act as if we believe they are who God says they are!!
How we treat our children – how we talk to them, spend time with them, listen to them, correct them – lays the foundation for them to believe that God loves them.
We can’t say – you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and yet you lack in these things.
We can’t say – you are precious to God, but annoying to me!
We can’t say – God has plans for you, but you are hopeless!
Does what we say (and how we say it) line up with what God says about our kids?
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A Practical Lesson in Showing Honour and Respect
There are opportunities in our everyday life to teach our kids to show honour and respect; we just need to take the time to teach.
Hi there! I'm Belinda and I'm glad you are here!
I am a family life coach and help parents to raise their kids with faith, values and life skills in a way that is intentional, relational and heart-focused. Read more on the About page
You can email me here.
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