Originally published on positiveimpactmagazine.com on August 4, 2011
By Heather Gaudet
The Parenting Respect Trifecta
Aretha Franklin belted it out, philosophers have long argued about it, and parents universally seek it from their children. Respect. Parents everywhere are charged with an enormous task: They are trying to teach their children how to build a world where respect, personal freedom and peace dominate.
Where should these parents begin?
The answer is based on the Parenting Respect Trifecta: that means honoring and respecting 1) yourself (the parent) as a person, 2) those you come in contact with, and 3) your children.
Parents’ behaviors and actions are the greatest determining factors of their children’s behaviors and actions. Whether we behave respectfully or not, whether we want our children to model us or not, every moment that they are watching us, our children are learning from us.
If you want your child to start showing more respect, then it’s time for you to incorporate the Respect Trifecta into your daily life. The Trifecta starts very simply with you taking a good look at yourself. To demand respect when you do not respect yourself creates confusion and passes on mixed messages to your kids. That’s definitely to no one’s benefit.
Ever put yourself down in front of them? Berate yourself when you make a mistake? Do you treat your body properly? To have respect for yourself means owning and acknowledging your opinions, your belongings and your mistakes. Have enough self worth to stand as an individual and you’ll create the ideal model for your children.
The second point of the Respect Trifecta focuses on your treatment of others. When your children watch how you interact with the world around you, they are absorbing your opinions, attitudes and treatment of others as part of their personal repertoire of behavior.
The surest way to teach your children to respect others is to respect others yourself.
Give respect freely, don’t raise your voice or curse, and cut your fellow humans some slack. You never really know what the other guy’s life is all about.
The final point of the Trifecta is certainly the most involved, and rightfully so. A parent simply cannot expect respect from their children if they do not treat their children respectfully. What child can understand the importance of respect if it’s a one way street? Demonstrating a deep sense of respect for your children will encourage them to act appropriately in return. In this way, you bestow them with self-worth, encouragement, and a belief system that a person’s opinion, feelings and experiences are valued.
To ensure that we’re treating our children respectfully, the final point of the Respect Trifecta includes four distinct areas: 1) Parents must respect who their children are as individuals, 2) they must respect their kids’ words and actions, 3) they must respect their children’s feelings, and 4) they must respect their kids’ belongings and what is important to them.
Your child is on his or her own personal journey here. Allow them to have a meaningful experience and enjoy watching the amazing individuals they turn into. Leave your judgment behind and give your children the opportunity and freedom to be themselves. They’ll repay your respect with their own respect and love for you as their model and parent.
Secondly, parents need to respect what their children say and do.
Give your children the freedom to express their thoughts without interruption, opinion or judgment. Just think about how great it feels when this same courtesy is shown to you.
Allow for healthy disagreement and control your personal contribution to a conversation by watching what you say, admitting your own wrongs and apologizing when necessary. If a parent expects a child’s full attention during conversation, then they must constantly model that behavior. The easiest way to inspire the use of please and thank you is to make sure your children hear it all the time. As for your children’s actions, have the same patience and respect for them, even during tough times. Give them the benefit of the doubt, don’t judge or jump to conclusions, and give them the opportunity to explain. At the same time, holding them accountable for their actions says that you respect them and expect them to take responsibility – guaranteed, they will.
Ever been right in the middle of total meltdown and have someone tell you how you “should” be feeling? As the guardians of our children’s journeys, parents will be subjected to countless emotional crises during the child’s growing years. Every individual, this obviously includes your children, should be allowed the freedom to express their own emotions and feelings. By respecting your child in times of emotional turmoil, you teach them that every human has a right to own and voice their feelings.
Lastly, if you want your kids to take their feet off the coffee table or refill the gas tank after using the car, spend some time thinking about how you treat their personal belongings. Treat their rooms, their privacy, their toys, their sports equipment, etc., with respect and courtesy. Their stuff may not be as valuable as yours, but it’s no less important in their reality. By taking an interest in your child’s belongings, you’ll teach them to value the belongings of others.
Focus on these three aspects of the Respect Trifecta, and you as parents will create a generation of respectful humans. Respect for our children must not waiver. This behavior will not only impact future generations, but will begin to make an impact right now. Good luck and happy parenting!