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Babies, Parenting, Preschool, School Years, Teens

Beyond the Labels: Parenting with Respect

There are a lot of parenting theories swirling around right now. I’ve found that I can relate to many of them and sort of fit with some of them. But I don’t really belong to any of them. I never found a group and followed along. And in searching for how or why I came to my particular set of beliefs, I came to this conclusion:  

I treat my kids with respect.

Parenting gets really simple when you realize your children are human beings. Your children are not pets, slaves, or property. They are human. Just like you. They have thoughts, desires, feelings and needs, just like you. When you are considering a parenting choice, just ask yourself a simple question: how would I feel?

Family sitcom by Peter DahlgrenWe ascribe so many negative qualities to our children. Stubborn, rude, disobedient, liar, loud, selfish, mean, strong-willed, disruptive. We say that our children won’t pay attention, are too rowdy, too lazy, talk back, don’t listen. Our children don’t want to share, won’t hug our friends, won’t sleep alone, want too much attention, have tantrums, won’t eat what we serve, won’t take naps.

But take a moment to look at yourself.

Have you ever had road rage, screamed at your spouse or thrown your remote across the room? That’s a tantrum. Have you ever procrastinated cleaning your bathroom or running to the dry cleaners? That’s lazy. What about arguing with your mother when she gives you unsolicited advice? Talking back. Have you ever taken a break at work because you just couldn’t sit one minute more? Too rowdy.

I don't want a hug by Crys WallaceCan you imagine meeting someone for the first time and having some other person tell you that you MUST hug them? How creepy. What about somebody telling you that you must sleep RIGHT NOW, but you are not all tired? And no, you can’t watch tv, read or play on your tablet. You must lie there, all by yourself, in the dark. Doing nothing. Sounds pretty great, right?

Does anyone come to your house and demand that you share your car with your friends? Or your iPod? Or your tv? I doubt it. But your child is being told that he must share his property whenever any of his friends ask, simply because it’s “nice”?

What would you say about a restaurant that would not allow you to select your meal, didn’t care at all if you found the food disgusting and further insisted you eat every morsel on the plate? Then, on top of that, they attempted to bribe you to eat their disgusting food with a delicious dessert but if you didn’t eat their disgusting food, they would not allow you to leave? Would you enjoy eating there? Or would you put up a huge fuss? Dare I even say, a tantrum?

We say children are bad because they are stubborn and talk back. But when we are adults, and life throws us curve balls, isn’t it really good to be stubborn and talk back? Those are the people who make it in this world. The ones who just won’t give up. The ones who can fight back with words and actions. Why aren’t we celebrating these qualities?

I look at my children as human beings who were given to me as a gift.

My job is to teach them the skills they need to become independent and successful adults. While I am firmly in charge, I teach them with love and respect. I am thankful that I was chosen to be their mom. They are who they are for a reason. I have neither the responsibility or the right to mold them, break them or change them. I am charged with teaching them to manage their personalities and harness their energy so every aspect of who they are can be utilized for good in this world. I did not create them. They were gifted to me whole and perfect. They came to me, entrusted to my care, expecting to be taught how to thrive in this world. That is a huge responsibility I embrace with humility and grace.

Children Walking on Trail by vastateparksstaffI don’t always get it right. Kids can be really frustrating. But it’s not because of what they do or don’t do. It’s that I don’t always know exactly how to effectively teach them. It’s my job, not theirs, to guide them to adulthood. They are simply trying to do their best. They don’t always achieve that. And when they fail, I have to get them back on the right path again. But I also have to get them there with love, dignity and the same respect I want in life.

So forget the labels. Have the courage to treat your children the way you want to be treated. You can lead them and guide them with a clear vision of the path you want them to walk, but you can do so while still keeping in mind that your kids are human beings. They may be little, but they deserve all the rights of any other human being and it is up to you to protect them. Your children are a gift as well as a responsibility. Never forget that.

©UnnecessaryWisdom.wordpress.com 2013

Do you have a specific parenting style or philosophy? How did you come to believe what you practice? Have your beliefs ever changed?



12 thoughts on “Beyond the Labels: Parenting with Respect

  1. Yes, I often think “peaceful parenting” is more accurately “respectful parenting” for me. In fact, it is respect for life, period. This is what drives my work as a Communication Counselor for connected relationships and conscious parenting. Thank you for taking the time to write this post. ~sheila


    Posted by Sheila Pai @ ALivingFamily | June 3, 2013, 3:33 pm
  2. Love it. Thanks for these reminders.


    Posted by jlbtcs | June 3, 2013, 5:15 pm
  3. You are an amazing parenting blogger, one that can boil an idea down and write about it so clearly and effectively! This article should be published everywhere!
    We are similarly minded, I’d love it if you could read some of my thoughts and perspectives on parenthood. I recently launched http://www.parentingwisewhys.com, and I try to do the same as you, look at the choices we make as parenting by evaluating the philosophy behind it. Encouraging parents to match their behavior to their philosophy.



    Posted by stephanie katz levadi | June 4, 2013, 10:20 am
  4. I love this! I use a variety of peaceful parenting techniques and consider my parenting style quite eclectic. However, I can definitely describe myself as one who parents with respect. I only have one criticism of this piece and it is relatively mild. It is the suggestion that a label of strong-willed is negative. I often refer to my son as strong-willed, but I see it as a strength. He knows himself and knows what he wants and will noy be swayed by others easily. If I encourage this, he has a good chance of becoming a strong leader rather than a follower! 🙂


    Posted by Kristi Bek | June 4, 2013, 11:16 pm
    • I agree with you, Kristi. My intention was to illustrate that was is often perceived as a negative is truly a positive. I don’t even use the word stubborn myself, as it seems to have some negative connotations. My personal favorite is the word persistent. I am persistent and I have a son who is extremely persistent as well. And you are so right–this quality is what drives the leaders and change-makers of the world. ~Zoe


      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | June 5, 2013, 5:30 am
  5. [deleted by commenter]


    Posted by [deleted] | June 6, 2013, 12:47 am
  6. As a mama of 15 years, and one who homeschools her two daughters, I have come to realize that if you treat your kids with respect they will treat you ( and other people) with respect. Actions truly do speak louder than words. When I see a child being disrespectful to his or her parent, I can only assume that the child learned this behavior from those he or she spends a lot of time with 😦
    Love is the best recipe for a harmonious home.


    Posted by Heidi Foss | June 8, 2013, 5:51 pm


  1. Pingback: Babywearing & Parenting | Pearltrees - June 6, 2013

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