How do we earn the respect of our children? I get asked.
My answer: “By being available and attuned to our children.”
How does that look like? You ask.
Here is one example. Child comes from being out (school, aftercare program...) for almost eight hours without meaningful parent contact because all we are doing is transporting our children from one location to the next, rushing from one event or program to the next, hoping not to be judged by being late.
Child extent their arm to welcome the parent into their space. Parent continues to be distracted (looking at their phone, playing a video game, talking on the phone or in person with another adult) you get the idea.
Parent says "Move out of my way" or "You are blocking my view" or " I'm talking with another adult, wait." Again, you get the idea.
The child now becomes "aggressive" or "loud" or "annoying" "too playful when we are trying to focus" “mocks the parent” all the phrases we use to describe the child’s behavior.
The child now withdraws, or if the child has enough confidence she or he will walk away, or go into another term we call " tantrum" to get the necessary attention, or to get validated, or to make his or her voice be heard.
The parent now goes into "EGO" mode and says: "Stop disrespecting me," or "Don't you dare do that to me," or "I am your parent, you are supposed to respect me," you get the idea. I have done it. It is in our parental template.
How do we earn the respect of our children? You are still asking.
It is in those moments that we tend to ignore where the respect comes in. When the parent does not see the child in the MOMENT because of our "business" or our cultural belief that "children are meant to be seen and not heard." It is in those moments when we miss the entire concept of what respect is about. I know, you still think I am crazy for bringing up this notion to your attention, or you say to me “It is easier said than done.” So, I say to you: "respect is given --that is how you earn respect." But you see, it is so hard to even grasp this concept.
Which is why we still wonder; how do I earn the respect of my child? This question should not even be asked. The question should be, how can I become available and attuned to my child. How can I honor my child’s space and not make it about me (the adult)?
Yes, it is a loaded question that can be difficult to answer when the entire world is looking at you as if you are crazy. And you will begin to feel isolated at the idea that you may be right. Right about being available and attuned to your children which is precisely how the respect is earned. You will begin to set boundaries with friends and family members who don’t agree with you. This too shall pass. Just like children go through phases, this too shall pass.
Despite of our audience and everything that is going around in the world, focus on this question and this question only to set you free: How can I become available and attuned to my child. How can I honor my child’s space and not make it about me (the adult)?
Kirsy C. Espejo
Training Facilitator, Parent Educator