As children we’re taught to respect our elders, parents, teachers, the laws, rules, etc. I remember growing up and my mom saying, “Respect yourself so that others learn to respect you.” Although I might have been taught this, at times, I think growing up as a girl I saw contradictions. I was seen, not heard. I asked too many questions when I was supposed to be obedient. I was asked to do just as I’m told.
Projecting those contradictions in marriage or relationships, I can see how sometimes I didn’t assert the respect I deserved. I compromised my sense of self worth, respect and equality in relationships. I nurtured Adam’s worth, fully respected him and lifted him on a pedestal.
Today, I find myself saying to my children, “Respect yourself so that others learn to respect you.” (Oh, no, have I become my mother?) I listen to them, might even negotiate once in a while when they suggest alternative resolutions that make sense. I explain what their roles are in our family and why I ask them to cooperate in the morning. Jonathan and David ask so many questions and I just answer them to the best of my ability. (Inside, I sometimes cringe—another question? Now, I know how my parents felt…heehee.)
I am asserting my respect so they respect me. In return, I honor them as individuals worthy of receiving the same level of respect. Children and adults alike, each one of us deserves respect and we should encourage each other to be worthy of what we have within us, gifts that have been given to us to share with others.
Eve, I commend you for placing a value on respect. It is very important today. This value helps bridge gaps and promotes understanding and forgiveness in society. It doesn’t mean you need to agree with the other, it just means you see how precious and worthy they are.
You are right in saying that respect must start with you. This is a great gift to teach your children that you respect them by first respecting yourself. Modeling and expecting respect for yourself allows your children to learn how to treat you through their words and actions. What’s wonderful is that their behavior will spill over when they play with their friends and family as well as when they are around adults. The best part is that they will also want to be treated like this and expect it from others.
Another way to instill this is by making sure you recognize what they are doing, saying and the choices they make. It’s not always easy for children or adults so a little acknowledgement goes a long way. When they stumble, think of ways to help them get back on track by having them apologize if someone was hurt, rectify the situation or discuss the issue so they can learn and understand the impact of not being respectful. Remember that these are teaching moments and simply taking something away does not increase your child’s awareness of showing respect the next time. As you know a bad decision can be a way to grow in wisdom, humility and perseverance. So there is no need to beat anyone up because everyone slips. And when this happens, stretch out your arms to create a path back to where your children know they are loved, feel safe and most of all they matter because they are respected.
So go ahead and own it, show it and share it. You’d be surprised how a little respect for self and others helps “the soul know its worth.” Now this is priceless!