Updated: Oct 24, 2020
If you think back to a frustrating time you had as a kid interacting with an adult, it probably involved the adult doing something that made you feel disrespected. It also probably left you questioning things adults have told you were important: how you treat others and how you talk to them. Though most of us can name many instances where this is true, why do we do the same thing to our own children? At what point in development do we expect them to just “know” how to show respect properly when we have not extended the same to them?
“Weird flex, but ok…”
I saw a discussion on social media where the question was posed to a group of mothers, “Do you ask your children before changing the TV channel or do you just change it?” I was saddened by many of the comments:
“They don’t pay bills here.”
“That’s MY TV.”
“I’m not asking them anything. I’m taking the remote and telling them to move.”
“I tell them ‘enough of this [expletive]’ and I take the remote.”
Why do we have to be so mean, dismissive, and disrespectful to kids? Why are we treating the same people we say we love more than anything in this world, as if they are undeserving of basic respect? I shared some other possible, more respectful solutions: a reminder of time left, letting them know the show is over and it’s time to do something else, but never taking a remote and turning the show off as a surprise and rudely dismissing them. It doesn’t matter if the parent wanted to watch that television or if the children have just had enough TV time for the moment, the interaction and respect is the same.
The discussion amongst the moms lasted a while. One memorable mom asked, why did some moms feel the need to “flex” on their kids meaning, in this instance, why did they feel the need to always remind children that they were inferior to them and didn’t deserve the same respect? Honestly, when you think about it, that is at the root of many of the things we tell children and do to them to “keep them in their place.” At some point, sooner rather than later, we have to dissect those thought patterns and challenge them.
You get out what you put in
It is so easy to fall into negative mindsets and behaviors that may have been passed down because many of us were raised not to question the way things are. Most of us have heard that children should be seen and not heard and they shouldn’t speak unless they’re spoken to. It is up to us to challenge those thoughts and ask ourselves the very question that many children are taught not ask: why? We tell children they can be whatever they want to be and tell them to break glass ceilings, but tell them not to question us during their formative years and make sure we knock them down a few pegs when they start asking too many questions. I challenge parents to really think about and question the steadfast rules they have about what it means to show respect as a child, but especially as a parent. What we say and how we say things to our children becomes their inner voice. How we treat them develops their self esteem. We don’t lose the title of authority figure in the home just because we treat our tiny humans with respect or allow them to question things. If anything, we help build the confidence and character of a young person who will go out into the world and demand that same respect. And isn’t that a common goal amongst us as parents?
-Sunney, mom blogger