This is the 3rd and final post in the series on how parents can teach respect.
"You have to be quiet, the baby is sleeping"
"Granny is coming, so we won't build a camp in the living room."
"Dad has had a difficult day, so we aren't going to read a book together now. He's resting now. Could you maybe help dry the dishes so it's nice and tidy when he gets up?"
"Mrs X is crying because her daughter has cancer. She'll feel comforted if we cook her a good dinner tonight."
"I'm sorry the toddler ruined your model village you built with your blocks. I guess you feel pretty mad! Tomorrow I'll let you build in my bedroom, and we can close the door."
"We miss Daddy. It will never be the same as having a father right here with us. Yet God has promised special help to us in our family. He will help us know what to do."
"FOR THE CHILDREN'S SAKE" : Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
In this post I'm dealing with the way we live as being a tool to teach respect. There are 2 points :~
1. Children need to grow up in reality to learn respect.
We live in a time where on one hand many children have endless safety and protection devises so they won't get harmed, and on the other, they have less hours contact in the week with their parents than previous generations. These children are not given the benefit of growing up in reality. Children from a young age need to experience reality so they are equipped to live as adults in the real world. Living in reality develops many characteristic traits, including respect.
~ practicing and learning self control
~ accepting and working with their plans which didn't workout or succeed
~ loving and caring for someone in need
~ loving and caring for someone who has hurt them
The quote at the beginning of this post, has 6 examples of children experiencing the realities and frustrations that are part of life in families. These 6 scenarios put forward a range of character qualities that are being shown to the child for them to adopt.
~ obedience to the parent's decision
~ self control
~ understanding and sensing how another person feels - empathy
~ selflessness or service for another's benefit
~ preparedness to try again after failure or interruption
~ owning grief as normal
~ trusting that assistance will come
and so on.......
Too often children are oblivious or screened off to the troubles and hardships of others. But if parents guide them how to respond to these 'hard' areas of life, they give their children 'eyes' to see and 'tools' to develop respect for others. The way we speak to our children about everyday situations, can open their mind and heart to learn how to respectfully think on others' circumstances, and how to demonstrate that respect in action.
As the quote indicates, learning respect through growing up in reality is not planned-in, it just happens. So we need to look out for occasions and use them to widen our child's understanding of people and life. The more we practice the better we become.
The 2nd tool we can use to teach respect through the way we live, is :~
2. To have a respectful attitude to our family.
Here are 5 areas you can consider when thinking about the degree of respect in your family.
(A) A respectful attitude between parents.
How we speak to our spouse - the words we choose and tones of voice.
Giving eye contact and attention in conversation to our spouse.
'Standing up' for the other, protecting their honour....
(B) Respect toward each family member.
How we speak to each member of the family - the words we choose and tones of voice.
Giving eye contact and attention in conversation to each family member.
'Standing up' for all those in our family, protecting their honour...
You may find help from Chapman and Campbell's Love Language book series, for children, teens and couples.
(C) Attention and time we put into being together.
This doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. Children can help plan and cook a simple meal and creatively set the table. The fact that they are part of the whole procedure gives children a strong feel and memory of family together times. The same full family involvement in planning a family holiday or a day's outing has the same positive effect. The family all being together, choosing to make family top priority, being attentive to one another, foregoing work commitments, friends, personal leisure... for this occasion, is what it is all about. The food and setting are secondary tools to help the family to be happily connected.
(D) A stable and positive home atmosphere.
These are the regular patterns that are dependable in a family - They can be annual events, such as every summer we go to the beach house or have family Christmas Day together. They can be weekly events, such as Friday night takeaways with a funny movie, the Saturday morning BBQ breakfast outside year through. They can be daily events, such as eating at the table together every night and hearing about everyone's day.
(E) The recognition of what is the higher priority at the moment.
At times as parents our priority is to push our jobs, relaxation, plans.. to the side and answer our child's question, watch them ride the bike, allow the game to move into the tidied lounge. But how do you identify if this is the occasion or the higher priority at the moment? It is hard but you can ask yourself -
* Is this moment or occasion going to be important to the child?
* Is there really an urgency to get my work done now?
* Is it a top priority or is there any reason to keep the lounge super tidy today/could we re-tidy it together afterwards?
* In the last week have I been involved in what my child is wanting to show me?Am I tuned-in to him?
The practice of each of these facets builds an attitude of respect within the family.
Remember the most powerful way to teach respect is to lead by example, so ~
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ concentrate on how much respect you are demonstrating in your relationship with your spouse or partner. Even if you are separated from your child's other parent, it's crucial that the way you speak of and to them and what you say about them in your child's hearing, be respectful. If you dishonour your child's other parent you not only hurt your child, but also harm their growing perspective of what respect is. You can disagree with your spouse and still remain respectful, even if only for the sake of the role they hold as the other parent of your child.