In a world where many deem it okay for children to call adults by their first name, where “please” and “thank you” seem to have fallen by the wayside, and where kids can seem to run the household, it’s paramount to teach my boys respect. To respect me, of course. To respect proper authority, yes. And to respect themselves, absolutely.
When so many images, even in cartoons, can illustrate a blatant lack of respect in these areas, how do I instill it in my guys?
1. I respect them. Before I tell you what that means, let me explain what it does NOT mean. It doesn’t mean giving them whatever they want. It doesn’t mean doing what they say. And it doesn’t mean they control the household. It means I speak to them with dignity. It means I answer questions on their level instead of ignoring them. And it means I let them know they are loved and feel secure in that love.
2. I talk to them about respecting others. When someone, especially an adult, is speaking to you, look that person in the eye. Respond to them appropriately. Shake hands when the situation calls for it. As young men, hold the door for women. (The younger one hasn’t started learning this skill yet).
3. I properly discipline them. The first two points will be of no affect if this point doesn’t come into play. Proper discipline will usher in respect for me, and thus what I say and teach carries a greater impact. Discipline is not to scare them or make them like mindless robots who must obey. It’s to teach them that there are rules that must be followed, and respect that must be rendered. It starts at home, and the rest grows out of that.
My sons are still works in progress, but modeling respect for them and training them in it, is a lifelong endeavor. Good thing I’m up for the challenge.