Nothing makes me cringe more than a parent teasing, taunting, belittling (even in a “joking” way), and otherwise disrespecting their child, and then wondering why the kid, in turn, treats them with disrespect.
Actually, it’s not only in the parent-child relationship that this dynamic takes place. It’s in every possible kind of relationship and even casual social interactions (patron and waitress, for example). Somehow we think we are to be respected even when we don’t demonstrate the respect towards others. Yeah, not good.
Disrespect from a Parent Lasts a Lifetime
I have to admit that this is an area of great struggle for me, on a spiritual level, all because of how I was disrespected as a child and later as an adult by someone.
I grew up in a home in which the family motto appeared to be, “Can’t you take a joke?” This is ironic since I do in fact have a great sense of humor and even speak fluent sarcasm. However, the merciless teasing and taunting that went on until I reached my breaking point has left me cutting ties with members of the family who can’t respect that constantly tearing someone down for sport is just not funny.
And so, when it comes to the biblical commands to respect, that was hard.
Respect can be out of Duty or Delight
Some people lost my respect so long ago, I don’t think I could possibly find it again. Some people have lost my respect so badly that I doubt I could degrade myself into respecting them, knowing it would cause them to think their actions were justified.
Perhaps this is why, the other day, while walking through Target, I gave a parenting lecture to someone who was treating their kid badly. It wasn’t clear cut “abuse” where I could have called the cops. It was teasing, and it was encouraging one sibling to pick on the other one in order to get the one to do what the parent wanted. Hmpf. Feels like home.
When it comes to Respect, You Eventually Get What You Gave
Respect is a two-way street. Sure, we are to respect our parents even if they don’t deserve it, and we are to respect those in authority even if they don’t deserve it, however as a parent or any other authority figure, wouldn’t you rather have your kid respect you because they feel with all of their heart you deserve it, or because of a sense of duty to God alone?
- How you treat your kid right now is teaching them how to treat others that are smaller than them, weaker than them, and “under” them in other ways.
- How you are treating your kid right now is also teaching them how to view themselves. What lesson are you conveying?
- Even more importantly, how you are treating your kid right now is giving them either a right or a wrong idea of what God thinks of them. How many people see God as angry, petty, and rude? How many cringe when they hear God is our Father?
Respect your kids.