I’d like to think I’ve got this parenting figured out, but I’m much too smart to fool myself into believing that. Even though I work with Catherine, she still amazes me with her wisdom and insight. In fact, I think she wrote this month’s newsletter just for me.
However, in case there are some of you out there who are also tyring to figure out this journey called parenting, I thought I’d share her insights with you as well:
Respect is a concept that often gets lost when talking about children. I don’t mean them showing respect to us. I am referring to the context of us, the parents, showing it to them. This may sound a little strange, but I truly believe it is the foundation of a healthy relationship with our children.
Respect does not mean we will be permissive parents. It also doesn’t mean we will never get mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Being respectful means we won’t forget they are people first and children second. It further means we won’t take them for granted or forget they are our priority.
Every once in a while, I will see a child who looks empty. In fact, I recently was talking to a mom whose little girl was nearby. I have known this child since she was little. I know her mom loves her and cares for her. I also know this little girl doesn’t get enough of her mom and the communication from her that tells her how special she is. It makes me sad for this child and the mom because both will lose out.
Things like this typically happen because the respect is gone and everyone is going through the motions of life, failing to appreciate the daily gift of having each other. The mom would be floored if she knew her child was feeling hollow and disconnected.
Show me a child who is respected and I will show you a child who most likely has a healthy dose of self-confidence. Children know when they are tolerated or when they are valued. Respected children will also know they are loved simply because they exist. They don’t have to prove anything to be heard.
When you study the teachings of Jesus, you see where He is declaring the dangers to anyone who harms children. He is not saying to let them have their way or not to discipline them. What He is saying is that hurting a child has a consequence and cannot be taken lightly (Matthew 18:6).
Thus, for us to maximize our relationship with our kids and to enhance their ability to see God’s purpose for their creation, we will need to be intentional in demonstrating respect to them in a variety of ways. I have created an acronym to make it easier to remember the ingredients of a respectful relationship.
Remember – to look them in the eye, frequently bend down to speak to them (or have them sit down if they are too tall), and ask questions to seek the truth. Be sure to remember that when you listen, you are conveying an attitude of respect.
Eager – to see them as separate human beings who are different than you. Being a student of your child says you don’t assume you know them completely. Have a hunger to know them at a deep level and they will be less anxious and more trusting of you.
Sensitive – Pay attention to your instincts. This will help you really see what is happening with your child. Also, ask God to give you sensitivity for when He is speaking to you.
Patience – for a child to feel respected. The relationship with his or her parents cannot always be rushed or hurried. It makes children feel unimportant if the main pace of our lives is 90 to nothing. Children need to time to process, experience, and think. Our patience with them gives them the opportunity to grow.
Eternal – We need to remember that our task is not about the moment, but about eternity. When we take a kingdom perspective of our motherhood role, it will allow us to plants seeds of faith and model for our children the character of God.
Character – Respect is one of the highest forms of integrity we can demonstrate to our children. It allows them to have a front row seat to a definition of normal that teaches them how to live their life in a manner which reflects Christ. A child respected will be a child who respects.
Time – We are all given the same 24 hours a day but how we chose to spend that time is completely up to us. Do you spend enough time with your kids that communicates the message “You are important”? Remember that another way to spell love is t-i-m-e.
Respect is absolutely necessary if you want to get through adolescence and young adulthood in one piece. If you have respect for them when they are little, they will have it for you when they are big. Ask God to show you how your household is doing in this area. He wants more for you and your family than you can ever imagine.
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