I interviewed Jill Rigby, author of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World for 5 Minutes for Mom. Read the advice that this wise mom offered me and then click over to 5 Minutes for Books to read more (and leave a comment there for a chance to win a copy).
You underscore the importance of not losing our tempers, specifically with tweens. As the mother of an eight-year-old daughter, can I confess to you that it's a big struggle for me? It is hardest for me to be patient with her when I know that she knows better. How can I handle these situations without losing it?
Our duty as parents is to guide our children through example and instruction. Here’s the great pressure release valve…We’re not perfect and neither will our children be. Your child will “fail” more times than “win” in the first twelve years, because they’re in training.
Second, remember that your child really doesn’t know better, no matter how many times you’ve told her. If the word “Don’t” has been used to begin words of instruction to your child, she doesn’t hear anything that follows the word “don’t.” The word “don’t” is an off switch for children. Rephrase: Instead of, “Don’t put your wet towel on the floor,” say, “Put your wet towel in the hamper.” Do your best to get rid of the word “don’t” from your vocabulary.
Third, you must hold your child responsible for her behavior. Your responsibility is to hold her accountable. If she doesn’t put the towel in the hamper, use repetition as a discipline rather than losing your cool. She’ll have to pick up the towel and place it in the hamper twelve times.
You exhort parents to love lavishly. Why/how does this result in a respectful home?
As the family began to change in the eighties with the numbers of mothers working full time increasing, divorce rates climbing, and latchkey kids becoming the norm, someone introduced the theory that quality time with children could replace quantity time. When children do not receive enough time with their parents, when promises are not kept, one disappointment after another leads to resentment. Resentment leads to disrespect.
We’re finally being forced to admit the fallacy of that theory. Children need time with their parents and lots of it. Play time, Instruction time, Meal time, Bed time, Do nothing time, and on and on. Children should not be the center of the universe, but they need to be the center of someone’s universe. Children need to see your love for God spilling over in their lives. Children need to see love between you and your spouse in your daily interactions. Children need to experience the overflow of that love.
Lavish comes from the French word lavasse or lavache, which means “down pour of rain.” Loving lavishly means loving enough to make your family your number one priority…ahead of work, golf, hunting, fishing, sports, etc. Loving lavishly means loving so much you’re willing to discipline your children for their sake. Loving lavishly is putting the needs of your children ahead of their wants and yours.
A home filled with lavish love is a home filled with grace, mercy, and peace…a beautiful picture of respect!
Can we raise children of character without instilling them with a respectful attitude?
No, because attitude is at the heart of the issue. Character is born in the heart where the reasons why we do what we do exist. Doing the right things with the wrong attitude is not exhibiting character.
What is the correlation between respecting others and developing self-respect?
The development of self-respect begins with respecting others, not the other way around as society has tried to convince us. Choosing to be humble, choosing to help others who cannot help you, choosing to accept an offense without retaliation--this is the stuff that builds character and self-respect. Flip the words around to hear the truth, "Respecting others enables me to respect myself." If we don’t respect others, we cannot respect ourselves.
If you were encouraged or challenged by these words, I highly recommend Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World (and the rest of the interview at 5 Minutes for Mom).