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. 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 speak 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. 🙂
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. 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.
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?
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.” 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. 🙂