A good friend of mine is an upstanding member of the community. He is hard-working, profitable in business, conducts himself with integrity, and has played leadership roles in a number of local charitable causes. He has made a concerted effort to earn respect in his town and has succeeded. Yet the one person who should respect him most is his son—and that has been a struggle.
Families simply can’t function without respect, but the more we push for it, the more elusive it seems to be. So what’s the answer? Why won’t children fall into line? Why don’t they give respect when we demand it? What could possibly help? There are no easy answers, but there are steps to take in a better direction. If you want to earn respect from your children, do these 10 things.
1. Respect your children.
This is going to look different from child to child, but you know when you’re disrespectful and so do they. As parents, respect is something we can teach by doing.
2. Respect their mother.
The relationship between parents sets the tone for the greater family dynamic. When children witness mom and dad treating one another with love and respect despite their differences, the standard has been set. On the other hand, when kids witness their parents bringing one another down, it’s an uphill climb to get to respect from there.
3. Be consistent.
Children need to know what to expect. Your inconsistency leaves kids floundering. You must be consistent in order to earn respect.
4. Follow through.
In other words, tell the truth. Think carefully before you lay out a potential consequence because the moment you fail to follow through, you lose credibility and respect.
5. Spend more time teaching love than teaching rules.Love does not demand respect. Love commands respect.
Children who are taught the connection between love and discipline can accept consequences more easily than those who are governed exclusively by “chapter and verse.” Love does not demand respect. Love commands respect.
Children are master observers. Having a solid work ethic, paying bills, giving charitably, helping others, leaving generous tips, talking positively about others behind their backs. All of this helps build and sustain the kind of character our kids will respond to with respect.
7. Be a family.
Do you consider your family worthy of your best? Is your family job one? Then you need to be proactive about family life. Have meals together, give each other undivided attention, have game nights, take vacations.
8. Be a leader.
Don’t just love—love from the front. Parents are family leaders, and one way to lead is to love from the front. Serve your family members. Listen to their needs and respond with care.
9. Don’t try to be their friend.
Don’t even worry about being loved back. Just be their father. You are there to love them and part of that is protecting them from themselves. Do what is best for them even when they disagree.
10. Tell the truth.
Tell the truth about what your values are and then live them. Also, tell the truth about your love and then love with as much energy as you can muster. Be genuine, let your gifts come through, and do your best at being your authentic self.
Sound off: How have you earned respect from your kids?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to respect one another?”