R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What it Means to Me

by Samantha on August 31, 2011

“What you want, Baby I got it
What you need, you know I got it
All I’m askin’ is for a little RESPECT when you come home, yea, Baby”

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T - Find out what it means to me!” 

And so the story (or song) goes.

Who would have thought that my faves, Otis and Aretha were chanting the mantra that all parents chant to their children at one time or another?

Clearly, these prescient entertainers were one-up on all of us when they sang their very parent-focused lyrics way back when.

What is respect, anyway?
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Well, according to the  Merriam Webster dictionary, “respect” is defined as the following:
1: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation <remarks having respect to an earlier plan>
2: an act of giving particular attention : consideration
3: high or special regard : esteem b : the quality or state of being esteemed c plural : expressions of high or special regard or deference <paid our respects>
4: particular, detail <a good plan in some respects>
in respect of
chiefly British : with respect to : concerning
in respect to
with respect to : concerning
with respect to
with reference to : in relation to

So, that being the case, do I get respect? Well, not so much. Okay, sometimes, but not as much as I’d like. Such is the lot in life of your typical mom or dad.
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Sometimes the mere drudgery is enough to make me want to jump off the nearest roof. Laundry is SO uncool.

Rappers demand respect but somehow I don’t think they’re asking for the same type that I require. They want respect for their rhymes. I want support for my scrubbing. They want emulation for their MC-ing; I want deference for my diaper duties. In addition:

I want respect for folding the laundry.

I want respect for cleaning up poo.

I want respect for changing the toilet paper roll for the umpteenth time this week.

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Yet, as much as I want it, it doesn’t happen. I can’t blame my kids - they’re…well…kids, after all. They respect me as much as they can in their own capacity and at the same time expect me to do their bidding, when they want it, pronto. And being a mom, I guess I have to do it, to some degree. Don’t I?

Well, perhaps not.
For as much as there is, to some degree, a proscribed list of parenting duties that we are bound by, there is also room for interpretation or, for some of us subversives, downright resistance to the expectations of being a mother or father. Some of us are at the point of no return. We want respect and we want it now.

Someone once said that “the little things mean a lot.” Boy, did they hit the nail on the head. It’s not the fact that you’ve changed your fourth poopy diaper within the hour, or the fact that you are on your fifth load of laundry for the day. Because we know that, hey - these are part and parcel of being a parent, right? It’s the fact that despite your best efforts, your time and the energy expended, there is what appears to be very little or no appreciation for what you’ve endured. Now, two-year-olds really can’t conceptualize appreciation that well, so you gotta cut them some slack. Older children can, but often don’t think of it, through no fault of their own. Ironically, that’s our job as parents - to teach them to be appreciative and respectful of us and the things that we do for them while being resentful that we are getting no respect for the things that we do for them.

So how does a parent manage to teach their children to be more respectful and appreciative? I’ve pondered this somewhat and this is what I’ve come up with:

1. Let them know that there is a difference between respect and expect, explain the differences and underscore the fact that they should not have expectations for things or events without showing respect for their parents first.

2. Explain that respect is one of those things that is mutual, and that the more one is respectful, the more respect one will receive. An all-around great deal, in my opinion.

3. Everyone deserves respect, at least from the outset. Give them the benefit of the doubt, assume that they’re worthy of respect and act accordingly. If they prove you wrong, then reevaluate your strategy.

Kids can be respectful and in turn respected. They just need to be taught.

How do you teach your kids respect? What are your tips for showing them how to earn and show respect?

 Aretha Franklin - Respect

I had to add Otis Redding who did, after all write the song:

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Rick August 31, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Kids need to gradually learn about respect and responsibilities. After all, they start off having everything done for them and slowly have to do things for themselves, and learn about the effort involved in doing things for other people. Giving them age appropriate "chores" is a good way to do it.


avatar Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I think respect for others starts with self respect which can only be achieved by independence. As kids grow and learn how to do things on their own, they achieve a sense of self reliance and personal pride. If coddled too much and not given responsibilities, children never experience those wonderful 'I did it myself' moments and can't possibly learn how to view their parents objectively. This can (and likely will) cripple a child's self esteem. After all, without learning how much time and effort is involved in daily chores like laundry and housekeeping, kids have no point of reference. How then can we expect them to respect us? I speak from personal experience and hind sight which as we all know… is 20/20. Dare I flatter myself by saying these are truly good words of wisdom?


avatar Samantha September 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I agree, Rick. They are never too young to learn about how to treat people as well as consequences. Teaching them simple chores and responsibilities will not only add to their learning about respect, but will make them feel a sense of accomplishment as well.


avatar Samantha September 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I totally agree that kids should be taught responsibilities early on. They can't know how much effort goes into their care without getting a taste of some of the chores. Laundry and cooking jobs, even simple ones, can be learned by small kids. Once they engage early, they are likely more respectful of the process and their parents later. Thanks for commenting.


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