MWW: How can parents manage and maintain respect from their kids during their teens years?
RK : Start them from young. Teach them what respect looks and feels like by genuinely respecting them yourselves. Respect their privacy, respect when they say “no” and respect that they are whole, able and competent beings.
My daughter, Ella Grace, is 4 years old and one of the things that I do in this area is really respect her space. If she doesn’t feel like taking a picture, we don’t take a picture. We don’t force a hug, or kiss, or conversation if she isn’t ready or willing. This is because some day when she’s a grown young woman, I want her to know that she matters. Her ‘No’ matters, her voice matters and the only way I can truly convey this is by showing her what respect looks and feels like.
Of course, we still have very high expectations in terms of how she conveys her ‘no’ or voice or message -respectful, kind, confident. We expect great things of her but we also expect great things of us. She knows mama will respect her ‘no’ and so in turn, she respects mama’s ‘no’, because I take the time to explain my “why” to her and not just say “because I say so and I am in charge”.
How do we expect our little ones to take charge and be responsible for themselves and their actions if we are constantly telling them, verbally or non-verbally, that they shouldn’t be in charge of their own thoughts, actions, and feelings?
It doesn’t matter if they are 4, 14, 24, or 3 – trust and respect comes from trust and respect. Lead by example. There is just no other way around it.