Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Respect - it's a two way street

I demand a lot from my kids. But most everything I expect of them boils down, at its core, to one thing: respect.

I expect my children to respect us (their parents), I expect them to respect their elders and other adults, and I expect them to treat every person they meet with respect.

To a child, that equates mostly to having manners, paying attention, and being polite.

If there were only two things I could pass along to my children, they would be:
"Look around you for ways to have good manners and show your respect."
- and -
"People should always have your respect from the beginning. It's theirs to lose, not theirs to earn."

Hold a door, pick up trash, put things away, listen when someone talks, make eye contact, respond when spoken too, say please and thank you... the list goes on.

It's not difficult to act with respect - but it does take effort. And children are sponges to what they see and experience first hand.

Monkey see - monkey do.

And every day I'm more and more amazed at the lack of respect I see displayed by parents toward their own children. Parents ignoring and not answering their children when they speak, parents not taking the time to stop what they're doing for one moment to listen to their children, and parents simply not using common courtesy with their own children.

This morning, for example, I was walking out of my daughter's school when a nice brand new Lexus pulled up. Out of the driver's seat comes a woman whom I can only describe as jaw-dropping. Beautiful, beautifully dressed... well you get the picture. Out of the passenger door comes her eight year old son.

The woman, strides to the school door, looking and talking straight ahead (apparently to her son who is a full twenty feet behind her), walks to the door, opens it, walks in, and lets the door close as she continues walking inside the school.

Her son has not yet reached the door.

Does she expect her son to show her respect, when her actions have so blatantly shown him none? Most likely she does.

But it would come as no surprise if he comes up lacking in the respectful behavior category.

We are our children's biggest teachers - especially for life's biggest lessons. Teaching a child how to be respectful of others starts at home. And it starts with how you treat your children.

Make no mistake - this does not mean that you cannot discipline or punish your children. Children must learn that with actions come consequences. But even discipline (yes, even spankings) can be administered with respect.

I hope my children grow up and continue to respect me. But most of all, I hope I never give them reason not to.


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