Last week, I shared some thoughts on teaching boys to be respectful. I wanted to come back and add a second part to that post because I really didn’t get into a lot of practical tips last week. If you didn’t read it, you will want to start there, and then come back and read this post. 🙂
What do I do if my child is in the habit of being disrespectful?
- Realize that respectful attitudes and speech are counter-cultural. Kids today speak to adults in ways that in the past would have been considered extremely rude. Keep your standards high! Teach your kids what the Bible says about speech and realize that this will be pretty different from the way our culture talks.
- Don’t argue with your kids. I find myself guilty of this fairly often, and I have to work to not “answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4-5). Not all kids try to draw their parents into an argument when they get an answer they don’t like, but some fall into this as a habit.
- Don’t justify your decisions to your kids. There’s a difference between explaining the reasons behind a decision and having to constantly justify yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of justifying. Be calm and gracious, but be an authority.
We are working to get rid of conversations that go like this:
“Can I go play outside?”
“Not today, it’s too cold outside. We can play outside when it’s warmer later this week.”
“It’s cold outside? It doesn’t look very cold to me.”
“Yes it is! It’s 20 degrees! The sun may be out, but that’s too cold for you to play.”
“I won’t get cold. I’ll wear a jacket.”
“No you won’t! You’ll end up taking it off.”
This conversation sounds silly, but how often do we do this as parents? God has given me the job of being a parent. It is my responsibility to make decisions about what I think will be best for my sons, and I will answer to God for those decisions. God has not given my children the authority to analyze my decisions and obey the ones they like and talk me out of the ones they don’t like. They are to obey in all things (Colossians 3:20). As a mom, I don’t need to justify my actions to my children. I am happy to give an explanation where appropriate, but there are also times where I cannot explain (i.e. my 4 year old does not need a detailed explanation of why it’s not good to go into a public restroom by himself). Children should be expected to obey what you say whether you explain yourself or not.
Instead, the conversation should go like this:
“Can I go play outside?”
“Son, I really think it’s too cold for you to play outside today. We’ll play outside when it warms up later in the week.”
“Would it be okay if I played outside as long as I put on an extra layer?” (Respectful question.)
“No, I think it’s just too cold today.”
“Okay. Yes, mom.”
And if the question is asked again, simply remind the child that they have asked and you have answered.
- It might be necessary to remove the influence of TV shows and movies that turn disrespect into humor. As I explained in my post on entertainment, we had to remove several movies from our rotation. Which movies they were doesn’t really matter – just be on the lookout for what entertainment encourages bad attitudes and disrespectful talk in your children. Some children are more sensitive to picking up junk than others.
- Decide on a proper response for your home, and insist on it. Our kids must answer “Yes, Mom” or “Yes, Dad,” when we ask them to do something, and this response includes a respectful tone. Not “yeah” or “okay, after I do this first” or “*sigh* in a minute!” Be prepared to practice this with them to get it right… sometimes it takes a few tries.
- Teach your children that the bad decision of the person in authority does not give them the excuse to be disrespectful. Recently, one of our pastors taught on respecting the government from 1 Peter 2:13-17. He explained that in 1 Peter 2:13 through 3:7, Peter instructs believes to be submissive to the government, to masters (employers), and wives to husbands. There are no perfect husbands, employers, or governments, and so obviously perfect leadership is not a requirement for us to be able to show respect! In fact, in 2:18, servants are specifically commanded to be respectful of good masters and also unreasonable masters. As parents, we need to set the example in this by not speaking disrespectfully about those in authority over us. We don’t have to agree, but we do need to be respectful knowing that it is God who has put authority in our lives.
- What about the “future leader” types who have genuinely good ideas, but are tempted to take charge when they shouldn’t? We have at least one future CEO, and possibly more. I think it’s possible to encourage leadership, but in an appropriate way. Just this morning, I asked my husband a question, and my son cut him off and started to answer. I asked him to stop and to let Dad talk. Then, when Dad and I were finished talking, I asked him what his idea was. It really was a good idea! But if he’s going to hold down a job in the future, he needs to learn not to interrupt or to answer for other people, especially when that person is in authority.
- Bottom line – Respect is an issue of the heart that comes down to fearing God. This takes us back to where we started! Our job is to teach our sons the Bible and to instruct them with our words and actions. God is the one that changes hearts, and I’m so thankful that He does. It’s not always in our timing, but He does use His word and His Spirit to change our sons!
If you’re new to Frugal Fun for Boys, be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the Biblical Boyhood Series.