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Instruction Manual for Kids: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Guest post by the red-headed hubby, Rusty Rea

I love stories of great leaders, I think most people do.  The ability to navigate past circumstance and draw the best out of people is a rare trait.  When we hear the exploits of mere men making incredible decisions our hearts swell with pride at such valor and selflessness, and we hope that at some level we, too, contain a modest measure of excellence.

As parents we transition from wanting to be the hero of the story, to wanting our children to be these amazing people.  Yes, we still want to be awesome at some level, but we have come to know our weaknesses and short comings and often settle for an ‘at least I’m not a total failure’ standard of excellence.  If we can somehow live vicariously through our children, deny them the opportunity for failure, encourage that independent spirit, then just maybe our children will grow up to be one of these extraordinary individuals…

That all sounds really good on paper, and our hearts are really good at convincing our heads that this is a sound line of reasoning.  Let’s stop and examine this for just one second.  I’m going to swap the idea of ‘parenting’ with ‘gardening’ for a moment and give a line of reasoning.

‘I have heard of some amazing plants, and I think I’m going to try to grow some.  First, I’m going to take a shovel and till an area of my yard.  Then I will throw some seed around on the loose dirt, put some dirt on top of any exposed seeds, and finally water.  Now, I really hope something grows — if it does grow then I can show off my bounty and prove to the world that I do know something about gardening.’

Oddly, that’s how many of us approach parenting.  We know we need to till, seed, water, and weed.  Our gardens might not look the best, but if the fruit looks somewhat normal then who cares? And we might just be lucky enough to get some amazing fruit.

If you have been following the blog for awhile, or have at least spent enough time to get to know us, you know that one of the things that we emphasize the most is intentional parenting.  Amazing kids that ‘just happen’ are as common as ‘passive gardening’ that consistently produces exceptional fruit.  Can it happen? Sure… but not as often as many are thinking.

Last week I talked about shaping your child’s personality, and how you have to nurture your child’s nature.  This week I am going to talk about respect.  A few years ago I was listening to the radio and a mom called into the show I was listening to.  I don’t remember the show, I just remember the mom saying ‘I’m not raising little boys,  I’m raising men who just happen to be boys right now… when they are older and mature I don’t want them to be boys who just happen to be men… I am raising men.’  What a wonderful perspective!  Yes, many of us have little boys and little girls, but we aren’t raising little boys and little girls… we are raising men and women who just happen to be boys and girls right now.

Respect is a key virtue that must be cultivated in each of us, and it is our responsibility to instill it in our children – whether they grow to be these amazing leaders or not.

And, to be honest, respect starts in your home.  First and obviously, you need to show your child respect and treat them appropriately.  But, just as important, and what this post is centered around, is that your child needs to learn to respect you.

Remember, we aren’t raising little boys and little girls, we are raising men and women.  If your child is defiant and disrespectful to you now, and it is never corrected (in attitude AND action) then you are on track to having a teenager and adult who will be defiant and disrespectful to you, as well as any other authority figure – this is who you are training and shaping them to be.  If you don’t equip your child with the tools to self govern their attitude and actions, then best case scenario is that they will, on a whim, eventually choose to ‘better themselves’ later in life and teach themselves how to respect others.  This would be ‘passive garden parenting philosophy’ (now that sounds like a good book title, hmmm…). Worst case scenario…well, you can imagine… If they do not see respect modeled at home, and if they are not consistently expected to model respect, then that cute little boy throwing a temper tantrum and talking back to you will soon be a man with the same behavioral patterns…

Remember, YOU are your child’s instruction manual and these things aren’t pre-programmed into them.  Intentional Parenting means that you aren’t just throwing seeds in the yard, hoping for a good harvest.  It means that you painstakingly and strategically invest yourself into these little plants…

This post is linked to: Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Mentoring Mama’s Monday Link Up at Simply Living For Him, Better Mom’s Monday Link Up at The Better Mom, Seasonal Celebrations at The Natural Mother’s Network,  Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, WLWW Link Up Party at Women Living Well

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