In my first book, Queen Mom, I tell the story of my first memory of losing my temper with my girls. We were starting round two of the chicken pox and I was feeling antsy. I thought I would at least get something done around the house if I were going to be sequestered for two more weeks. I started the project of painting the outside window trim.
The girls came outside looking for me. Another interruption. Couldn’t they just play quietly in the house for a couple of hours? I lost it and yelled at them. The look on their faces was heartbreaking. (I’m not proud to share this story.) Finally it came to me—they weren’t the problem, I was. I needed perspective and patience in that season of chicken pox. Perspective to reassure me it wouldn’t last forever and that it could be a special time together if I chose to make it so. Patience to make the most of the time with my precious little girls.
My heart breaks even now as I think how I disrespected my little girls when all they wanted was their mom. As parents we talk often about teaching our kids to be respectful, but respect starts with us—the parents. We need to model respect to our kids and then they will catch it (just as they caught the chicken pox).
Being respectful to our kids is one small action that will bring big change in our kids.
Showing our kids we respect them means we speak their language. We come to their level as God came to our level by sending His Son to become a human.
We show our kids respect when
- We are patient with them.
- We show them kindness.
- We do an act of thoughtfulness for them.
- We treat them as we want to be treated.
- We listen to them.
- We understand them.
- We don’t tease at their expense.
- We take seriously what they take seriously.
Recently a young mom shared with me a “project” her four-year-old son had taken on. For almost a year he portrayed himself to be a super hero. This little guy created a super hero persona for himself. He made up a name, characteristics, a nemesis, a storyline—everything a regular super hero has. This all started when he was three! I was amazed by his creativeness and his ability to develop another “person.” This young mom and her husband respected her son by taking seriously his super hero persona. They didn’t belittle him or tell him to stop being silly. They showed him respect by getting on his level and entering his world.
Just think—when this little guy is no longer little and is dealing about the bigger issues of life (like what to do with his millions of dollars from his new super hero movie) who will he come to? Who has always been there to listen to his dreams? Mom and Dad. By showing our kids respect we build lifelong influence in their lives.
The other big change we’ll see in our kids is their respect towards others and ourselves. They will emulate what they see modeled.
By showing our kids respect we are gifting ourselves as well.
This Christmas give your kids a gift they will return—respect.
What is one way you will gift your child with respect this week?
Read more about what I did wrong and right in my two parenting books–Queen Mom: A Royal Plan for Restoring Order to Your Home and Love No Matter What: When Your Kids Make Decisions You Don’t Agree With.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.