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Respecting My Children?

When God opened my eyes 8 years ago to all the yucky motives in my heart concerning my marriage – I began studying godly femininity, biblical womanhood, what it meant to be a Christian wife, and God’s design for marriage. My primary focus was to be right with God, to get rid of any sinful thinking or toxic lies I had unwittingly embraced, and to seek to pour healing into my marriage and relationship with Greg that had been suffering greatly.

But God had more in mind for me than just changing my marriage.Β He wanted to change ALL of me and ALL of my relationships!

Even though I wasn’t specifically studying about how to be a more godly mom – I couldn’t help but notice things like:

  • How can I really be a godly woman if I am trying to talk to Greg with a respectful, pleasant tone of voice, but I totally lose control with my children and scream at them? And I certainly would want to watch my tone of voice with other people, as well – in my extended family, at church, at work, and everywhere else.
  • I am working on being a safe place for Greg to share his thoughts, shouldn’t I also be a safe place for my children and other people to share their thoughts?
  • The smiling challenge was such a blessing to Greg – but surely, my children are blessed when I smile more at them, too! What if I try the smiling challenge at work, too? And at church?
  • A lot of the things that so many men find to feel disrespectful are things that would feel disrespectful to me, too. And to other women. Well… to anyone, honestly! Even to my children. Many of the disrespectful things were ultimately about sinful motives, wrong attitudes, and unhealthy boundaries. Those are things I would do well to avoid in all of my relationships.
  • A lot of the things I was discovering that speakΒ respect to husbands are really things that should be present in any healthy relationship between any two people, especially between any two grown adults. But there are a lot of things here that I want to be sure to include in how I treat my children, as well.
  • Part of loving other people with God’s agape love (1 Corinthians 13) is that we are to treat all people with honor, value, and dignity just because they are made in the image of God. That would certainly include my children, too.

So I began to implement treating my children with genuine respect, as well – not the same kind of respect I would give my boss, a police officer, my husband, a pastor, or the president. There are different definitions of respect – that word is such a big word and can mean so many different things. Children are not in positions of God-given authority in my life. But God counts the way I treat “the least of these” as the way I treat Him (Matt. 25:31-46).

NOTE: I am planning to devote an entire chapter to this concept in my next book, “The Peaceful Mom,” that is scheduled to be published this coming fall or winter and I hope to address more issues that relate to the heart of a mom on my blog this year at times, if anyone is interested. πŸ™‚

Using Some Dictionary Definitions of “respect”:

I can certainly hold my children in high or special regard and esteem them. I can also give particular attention and consideration to them. And I can have admiration for the good ideas and good qualities my children have. Β And I can have a polite attitude toward my children out of reverence for Christ. (I don’t have to respect sin with anyone, of course, and I am not talking about respecting them as if they are in charge of the family.)

How Might I Respect My Children in a Way That Honors Christ?

Of course, some of the ways I might show respect to my children will change as they get older and then as they become grown adults. Here are some suggestions to prayerfully consider. Ultimately, we must each seek to do what God prompts us to do in our situations. I might choose to:

  • Listen to their feelings, knowing that their feelings are important, but also realizing that their feelings can’t be the only basis for my decisions as a parent. There has to be balance, wisdom, and discretion. I want my children to feel heard, loved, and precious. But then I need to make decisions based on what is ultimately in their best interests in the eyes of God according to the truth of His Word.
  • Teach them that God’s Word is the source of absolute truth, not any person’s feelings or desires. So I can respect their personhood but always reverence Christ above all else.
  • Not idolize my children. In other words, I can’t allow them to be what I love most in all the world. Jesus has to occupy the throne of my heart.
  • Allow them to have certain choices that are their own to make that I do not override (these areas should increase as they get older and demonstrate greater levels of trustworthiness and responsibility). I don’t want to try to dictate every little decision to my children, not giving them any chances to make decisions for themselves when appropriate. Again, this requires balance, discernment, and wisdom because this will also change over time.
  • Speak to them with a respectful tone of voice, modeling for them the respectful tone that I desire them to use with me, their father, and other people.
  • Praise the good I see in them. (The things I focus on tend to grow for them just as they do in my other relationships.)
  • Discipline them in private whenever possible so that I do not humiliate them in front of others.
  • Give them room to have their own dreams.
  • Let them know they can respectfully share their feelings, concerns, desires, and ideas with me – that I want to know their hearts and minds and that what they think matters to me.
  • Give them room to fail at appropriate times without me swooping in to always rescue them so that they can learn and grow.
  • Be available to help when they really do need help so they know I am there for them and I have their backs.
  • Be careful about sharing stories about them that would embarrass or humiliate them.
  • Get their permission before sharing sensitive things with others as they become older.
  • Seek to give them as much responsibility as they can truly handle so that they can learn to become responsible members of society in the future.
  • Let them own their decisions and feelings and realize that I am not responsible for their choices. I am responsible for myself. I am responsible to parent them properly in God’s sight at every stage of their development (my parenting will have to change and flex according to each stage). I am accountable to God for how I parent, love, and discipline my children. But they have free will that I cannot override and that God will not override. And yet, at the same time, God is sovereign.
  • Not freak out at them but handle things calmly – i.e.: if a child drops a plate, I can stay totally calm and in control of my own emotions, words, and response. I don’t have to assume evil motives or blast my child for making a mistake or having an accident.
  • Watch my expectations and my own motives about what I want regarding my children to be sure they honor Christ
  • Seek to do what is ultimately in their best interest, respecting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
  • Respect specific boundaries that my children may want to set about their personal space. There may be times and certain stages when it would be best for me not to force them to show affection to other people or there may be times when they don’t want to be tickled anymore and if they say they don’t want to be tickled or hugged at that time – I can teach them that I respect their wishes by honoring their requests. I can also teach them that other people should respect their requests about their personal space, as well, and that no one should have the right to force physical contact on them that is unwanted.
  • Recognize and seek to meet their needs when they don’t have a voice or they don’t know how to express their needs yet.
  • Treat them with kindness
  • Use my words to build up, encourage, and bless them, not to tear them down.
  • Be careful not to pressure them too much.
  • Encourage their dreams and encourage them to seek God’s will above my own desires for them.
  • Teach them to show respect to others, including myself and their father.

A QUOTE FROM BILLY GRAHAM:

A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.

SHARE:

What are some ways God has shown you that He desires you to respect and honor your children or even other people as you have been on this journey?

REMINDER:

If you would like a great place to start the journey to become a peaceful wife, check out my book, “The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord.”Β And if you have read my book, it would be such a gift to me if you might share an honest review on www.amazon.com. I only need 11 more reviews before Kregel Publications, my publisher, will begin to provide a higher level of support to help promote my book. πŸ™‚

 

29 thoughts on “Respecting My Children?

  1. I’m so glad you’re sharing about motherhood too! Great post. There is so much more to parenting than simply having authority, and it’s so good to focus on the way God wants us to treat our children, not just how to teach them obedience.

  2. HI April!

    I haven’t commented in a long while, but have been reading your posts and supporting you in prayer ;). This is a great one and full of lots of nuggets of wisdom, per usual.

    I thought I should make you aware, if you aren’t already, that there is a “The Peaceful Mom” out there already. She is a blogger by the name of Kimberlee Stokes and her website is thepeacefulmom.com. She blogs about budgeting, organization, meals, home decor, etc. Her focus is a little different than what you’re talking about here, but she does blog about her 4 teens and parenting them sometimes, too.

    Any who, thought I should let you know in case you want to consider that.

    Have a blessed day πŸ˜‰

    1. FREEINDEED,

      Ultimately, my publisher will decide upon the title, and I am sure they will look into any copyright/trademark issues. This is the tentative title, but I will let them know about Kimberlee Stokes’ site. πŸ™‚

      Glad this was a blessing. It is so wonderful to hear from you and thank you very much for the prayers!

      Much love,
      April

      1. Of course! That makes sense :). Those of us without publishers don’t think of those thingsπŸ˜„πŸ˜„

  3. Thankyou April! I just got a hard copy of love and respect in the family. And cant wait to read it. This journey on respect and submission really is a rollercoaster of a journey, but in a good way! I loved this post. Definately one to print out.

    1. I did this too, but made it clear that I would expect the same consideration and respect be shown to me as well. I will never again be a doormat to my family of males, I am of equal worth and dignity. Men are rarely able to respect their women – and Paul is definitively not helping this. But then again my family is not christian by any means so this will help.

      1. ruhrgebietshexe,

        Sometimes both men and women think that our only choices are to be doormats or to take control and dominate. Both of these approaches are sinful and destructive distortions of masculinity and femininity. Thankfully, there is an infinitely better option for believers in Christ! We are all to die to our old sinful selves and live in the power of our new selves in Jesus. He can give us the ability to be the women (and men) He calls us to be. We can reverence Him, respect ourselves (think rightly about ourselves according to scripture), and respect others all at the same time.

        Women and men are absolutely equal in worth and dignity in God’s eyes, Gal. 3:28. And we are all equally called to live in complete and total submission to the Lordship of Christ. Men are not superior. Women are not superior. Men are not better, women are not better. God is good and all of us want to bring honor and glory to Him. This will involve our willingness to carry out our marriages and families by His wisdom.

        Scripture contains the absolute truth of God and for those who live for Christ, it is God’s wisdom for how we are to live that is so much higher than human wisdom. So these words are not Paul’s words, but God’s Words. God does place husbands in a position of God-given authority that is different from the position in which He places wives. But it is not for men to mistreat, abuse, or lord sinful power over women, it is to love, nurture, care, provide for, and protect those in their care.

        Much love to you!

        1. April. That is one of the best explanations I have ever read. I’m going to print it out. (Maybe for my husband ). I think he confuses his position a lot. I think after our fire I was looking for him to care and nurture me. I’m usually the strong one and I realized the other day I have never been faced with a tradegy like that before. I just wished he didn’t get angry and leave. I wished for grace from him. It is almost a year from our tradegy and I know you said I need to respect his decision to leave but there are days I struggle. I miss our family being together so much. I’m still going to church and reading my devotions. Tonight I will be getting my youngest for a week. I’m going to work super hard on respecting her!
          Much love!

          1. Tina,

            Thanks for letting me know that this was a blessing.

            You can certainly desire him to come back and pray for reconciliation. But yes, respecting his decision to leave will be a lot more productive than trying to force him to come back when he is not ready. Then he will be able to decide for himself to come back when he is ready and he won’t feel like he is on a leash. IF he has truly repented and is willing to rebuild trust, then y’all can slowly begin that process at that point.

            I’m so thankful that you are seeking Christ wholeheartedly. Praying for God’s healing for each of you, my precious sister! Let me know how things go!

          2. April,
            After I wrote last night I went over to my husbands place he asked me to come help my daughter pack. She was complaining about not having time to pack and basically just wants to do what she wants. My husband yelled at me. He yelled at her. I ended up leaving in tears. I can’t tell you how much I hate this life the way it is right now. I am powerless with my daughter. So today i sit and wonder if she will come over here on her own. If I should text her or be silent.

  4. These are awesome thoughts April. I especially love the tickle/kiss one, I do that with my kids! If I’m tickling my son and he asks me to stop I stop immediately and I say “Sure! I totally respect that you want me to stop, it’s your body”. If I am going to give my daughter a kiss and she says no I say “Sure! It’s your decision who you let kiss you” (funny thing is she usually comes up and asks for a kiss about 2 minutes later lol). Hopefully this helps them respect themselves and set appropriate boundaries with other people later.

    HH

    1. Humbled Husband,

      I think that is a really great idea. Hopefully this will help them set appropriate boundaries, yes! And this approach might help them know that if someone is violating their boundaries, they have the right and responsibility to say no and to get help.

  5. Teach, bring to your child the awesome wonder that we have for Our God, the God that made the most beautiful world we can imagine!
    Our Father is Our Father, He looks after us and he expects us to do the same through showing love, gratitude and respect!
    And let us be gentle and show love for all that he created, be gentle with what is around us.

    Blessings on your day, brothers and sisters,
    Jesuscentreoflife

  6. Thanks for this post April it was a blessing! Since starting on this respect journey I have felt God leading me as I progress along this difficult road, to think about how I need to better respect my children. Also, what the differences are in the types of respect between my relationship with my husband and my relationship with our children. Children are not in a place of authority in our relationship yet its important to balance respecting them while showing them we have authority to make the decisions about most things.

    My son is in his early teen years and learning to achieve and maintain a balance of respect and
    discipline is something that is very much on my mind right now, where boundaries need to be and where they cannot be, and how to ensure he feels worth and confident and loved. With our youngest 2 in the elementary school years we also have difficulties as we have only had a parent-child relationship with them for 3 and a half years they were parented by their birth family plus the foster care system for their first 5 and 7 years. This presents a whole other collection of issues. As well, learning to balance the stress of these issues also has impacted our marriage significantly, as it was one of the contributing factors to our near breakdown along with the respect issues.

    God has been showing me what Agape love means in parenting our children and it has been a whole other journey. I struggle with it quite a bit as it is hard to not be resentful about our situation with our younger children and how it affected our marriage and the stability and peace in our family. And it is sometimes difficult to not be resentful even towards the children even when absolutely nothing is their fault, but just because of the strain on the family that it has been an also on our marriage. It is a big struggle that God is slowly helping me through. Some days are more painful than others, some days are easy. A lot of times I really fail and I am convicted with so much guilt. I know it is the enemy trying to attack me and try and convince us we cannot survive.

    One thing I have found as well pertaining to peaceful parenting of our children is that since I have learned to respect my husband as a parent and as a father bringing his own unique characteristics and abilities into our family and not trying to force him to parent like me, think like me, and basically “be me” as a parent, we have really strengthened as a parenting team. This creates a much better picture for our children. While we still have lots of different opinions, the dynamic between us now is very different than it once was, and it has allowed us to finally work together. For many years we went against each other and it is amazing to finally feel like we are in this parenting journey together. Many times I do still find myself wanting to fight for my own way, but God has given me so many nudges and reminders to just let something go, or allow me to hear myself and realize how demanding I sound, or in so many cases just helps me realize that I don’t have to have it my way any more than he does, and it’s right to trust in my husband’s decision on something because it is God’s design that my husband has the (human) authority in our family. God has totally changed my perspective it’s amazing what a lot of prayer and a lot of seeking His will can do! I find as well the more I remember to respect my husband even when I oppose his viewpoint, the more my husband respects me and is more willing to stop and listen to what I have to say.

    Some days it can be very hard as well because my husband is not seeking God’s will right now, for example I want to go to church as a family on Sunday morning and he wants us to stay home and relax together as a family. Not that he is opposed, but he just isn’t focusing on it right now (sometimes we go without him if he doesn’t mind). I am trusting God that He is going to get through to my husband and for now if I have to do this for a short time to respect my husband, I have learned to rest in that and know that God is doing His work and it isn’t on my time. It is hard some days but I am trusting that the Lord can lead our family through my husband regardless of his level of faith at the moment. God can do anything and I can rest in that.

    1. Truly Blessed,
      Thank you so much for sharing what you have been learning and the various struggles. I know this will be a blessing to many of our sisters. πŸ™‚

      Praying for God’s continued good work in your life, your husband’s life, and in your children’s lives. And for Him to give you His Spirit of discernment and wisdom for each step.

      Much love to you!

    2. My son is in his early teen years and learning to achieve and maintain a balance of respect and
      discipline is something that is very much on my mind right now, where boundaries need to be and where they cannot be, and how to ensure he feels worth and confident and loved.

      This is easy for me and my Husband, It is way harder for him to show equal Love and consideration to the young Woman that is our daughter. He is overly harsh, critical and restrictive. I told him more then once that it will backfire and might cause her to convert to the radical feminists. But he continues to heap praise, Love and respect on our son. He is such a pampered guy. He does not respect me at all anymore. But there will be another wind blowing in this house soon.

      1. ruhrgebietshexe,

        It sounds like things are pretty difficult right now. πŸ™ I’m so sorry to hear about your pain. Would you be interested in talking about what is going on?

        Much love to you!

  7. Thank you for this reminder April. I really feel like I struggle right now with my 16 year old. I know she has had a hard time this past year. She has witnessed things I wished I could shelter her from. I want to love her and respect her, but when she is so disrespectful to me it is so hard. I find myself walking away from her. If I tell her she is being disrespectful, it does not phase her. She is supposed to be staying with me for a week and her dad a week, but sometimes she wants to go back to her Dad. She will say she likes it better over there, she likes the bed over there better. It makes me really sad. I have been trying to do little things for her, kill her with kindness. At this point I don’t know what else to do. My oldest daughter is a gem. She is respectful to me. She talks to me normal and I in turn treat her the same way. She is 20 and very mature, but she has never been disrespectful to me.

    1. Tina,
      In a separation/divorce situation, the dynamics get much more dicey with our children. There does have to be a balance where we treat them with respect, but they also need to treat us with respect and honor our God-given authority. The authority structure of the family gets kind of broken in a separation and kids immediately learn how to play parents against each other to avoid having to obey and respect both parents.

      I pray for God’s wisdom and healing for you, your husband, and your children, precious sister!

  8. implying he is not intelligent/capable/competent
    implying he is not enough for you sexually
    implying he is not providing enough for you financially
    implying that you are superior to him morally/spiritually
    displaying contempt for who he is as a man – not accepting him as he is (I am not saying you must respect sin, but that you respect him as a person and as your husband)
    telling him what to do/bossing him
    taking control of the marriage/family and not allowing him to fulfill his God-given leadership position
    making fun of him, putting him down, criticizing him, belittling him especially to others
    body language that communicates contempt/hatred/judgment
    implying that you respect another man more than you respect him
    implying he is not a good father
    undermining his authority as a father

    If Husband does not heed all of this too he does not deserve the Woman.

    1. ruhrgebietshexe,

      I don’t write for men, but yes, many of these things would be disrespectful to wives if husbands did them, as well. Husbands are commanded to treat their wives with honor and respect so that their prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter. 3:7

  9. Really love this. As I am asking God to show me more ways to build and nurture right relationships with my husband, children, and others. I really want to please God wholeheartedly and grow more in knowledge of Him and His Son Jesus.

    1. Erica Dunomes,

      Aw! What a beautiful attitude! It blesses me to hear your heart for Christ and your family. Praying for God to empower us all to do exactly this. πŸ™‚

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