Respect has become something of an issue between my seven-year-old son and myself as of late. It seems from the time I drop him off at school to the time he gets back into the car eight hours later he forgets what it means to talk to his mother using a respectful tone and kind words.
It usually goes something like this …
“Mom, can I watch some TV after dinner?”
“Of course you can. You know I let you do that as long as you have your homework done.”
“No you don’t”
“No you don’t.”
At what point have I dropped the ball to where he actually thinks that he can argue with me? I mean, he’s seven years old. I would never have even thought about fixing my lips to say something like that to my parents.
Consistency is the key word here. I had let disrespect go on so long that he had become comfortable talking to me any old way.
Since then, though, I have made some serious changes: no TV, no video games, no snacks or treats either. And let me just say he is reading a lot and our tables are filled with puzzles. Oh, yeah, and he is eating his dinner … ALL his dinner, and quickly, too. The real blessing came to me the other day when he said sorry for speaking to me disrespectfully. WOW! Consistency really pays off.
However, in the process of teaching him to speak kindly and respectfully I learned something about myself. I was not teaching kindness with kindness or respect with respect. I was impatiently telling him to be more patient. I was being rude, yet telling him to be respectful to me. For a 7-year-old that can be confusing.
I am all about giving respect to elders, but the real point is how can I expect things of my 7-year-old that I don’t even do myself? What does that teach my children? Hypocrisy is the only thing I came up with. So I apologized for my actions. Thankfully I had already taught him about forgiveness, so all went well. It was a lesson learned for both of us.
Isn’t it amazing how when we are trying to teach our kids something we so often learn much more about ourselves? What a gift.