I know a teen who has so little respect for his parents, he refuses to do anything they ask. He won’t help with chores around the house – he won’t even clean up after himself. He’s an exceptionally bright kid, but he’ll do very little homework or classwork. On the flipside, he expects his parents to do everything for him and he blames his teachers when he gets a poor grade. Although his parents are financially strained, he fully expects them to buy him what he wants when he wants it. Although they are disabled, they are supposed to cook and clean and drive him everywhere he wants to go. His teachers curiously treat him unfairly year after year.
How did he get to this point? Good question, but let me tell you a little about the family first.
I REALLY like this family! They have a fantastic sense of humor and have stuck together through the negative wedding vows…sickness, bad times. When their son was born, they both vehemently agreed that they would treat their cherished child with respect above all else. Both parents grew up in a generation where children were seen, not heard, and it was important to them to do THIS piece better than their parents.
What a fantastic goal! Treat your child like a human being his whole life. I deeply admire his parents for making that commitment. But here’s where the train came off the tracks…
In their effort to give him a voice, his voice became the most important. To show him his value, they served him. He wasn’t just a valuable member of the family, he was the MOST valuable member of the family. He was the King of the Kingdom. It’s hard to become a peasant from there… to fall under someone’s authority such as a teacher or a parent.
We can value our children beginning when they are young by spending time with them, participating in activities they enjoy, listening to them when they talk (as long as they aren’t interrupting,) talking TO them and not AT them: In other words, a back-and-forth dialogue as opposed to simply giving orders, going to their performances and being excited about it…get on their level and enjoy them!
We teach them respect by requiring them to do certain things such as: help the family with chores, respond to adults respectfully, follow directions. (I’ll talk about HOW to do this effectively in another post!)
If I focus only on value, I get the young man described above. A teen who expects the world handed to him on a silver platter while he doesn’t lift a finger. If I focus only on value, I get a teen who is respectful (out of fear) while under my roof, who will rebel as soon as he can escape. He will run away so fast and so far, my head will spin wondering why he didn’t appreciate all I did for him.
If I provide a good mix of both value and respect, I remain the Queen of the Castle. My son will eventually rise to the throne. But, it won’t be handed to him on a platter. He’ll earn it.