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We all want our children to show us respect but what does that really mean? Respect is defined as “to admire someone as a result of their abilities, qualities or achievements”. You may feel like your children do not respect you especially in the teen years when they have their own ideas and are challenging yours. How do you get your children to show respect? Well, first off you can not force respect.

Sometimes the word respect is used as a synonym for honor. If you want your children to honor you then remember that you are the parent, you are not their best friend, you are not on equal levels. But even though you have more power this does not mean that you over use that power. You set the rules and enforce them but you also act with service, caring, love and humility. You are the leader, not a dictator.

Being a leader and a role model is also how you can teach and earn respect. First, we need to behave in a way that is worthy of respect. One way to do this is to show respect to your spouse, other family members and people out in the community. When you show that you can resolve your differences in a peaceful way this will communicate a powerful message. When children experience respect firsthand within their family then they are more likely to be respectful of others. Simply stated, “respect begets respect”.

Your child may respect you but not always agree with you. There is a difference. As parents we will be listening to our teens and all of their contrary beliefs and we may want to set them straight.  We are not always there to change their minds but to validate their thoughts. We can give our alternate viewpoint but it will be received better if it is not forced upon them.

Journalist and author William Attwood wrote “Don’t demand respect as a parent. Demand civility and insist on honesty. But respect is something you must earn—with kids as well as with adults.”

When discussing their view, your teen may get angry and defensive. It may get to the point of backtalk, name-calling, cursing or yelling. Don’t counter this with “Your not being respectful” because they may not feel like you deserve their respect at that moment but that doesn’t mean that you should accept rude, hostile behavior either. They need to act in a way that is not demeaning but treat you and others in a civil way. These behaviors are unacceptable and should be corrected.

So show your children that you are worthy of respect, do your job well, be a person of integrity, someone they and others can count on. Treat them fairly, be consistent and be someone who stands by their word. Show them that you value them but require them to also value you in their actions. Gaining your children’s, your spouses or another person’s respect is not quick and easy. It takes time and conscious effort but will be well worth it.

Written by Lisa Strong


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