There seems to be deficiencies in respect in society today. People just don't treat each other along with they used to. You will see it everywhere.

• Drivers cursing at other drivers, making very inappropriate hand gestures.

• TV talk suggests that end up getting people shouting at each other.

• The clerk at the department store that can't be bothered to answer your question.

• Students screaming at their teachers in class.

Unfortunately, this not enough respect has crept into the family. Many parents have noticed the fact that kids don't appear to honor their parents the way that previous generations of children did. The question we need to ask is, how did we get to the position? How did this not enough respect infiltrate even the closest family relationships? Most of all, just how can we be sure that it doesn't ruin our bond with our own teens?

Another question that usually pops up when people talk about respect in the parent/child relationship is this: do parents need to respect their children. Historically speaking, the thought of respecting children is just a fairly new idea. But our society puts great value in the idea of mutual respect, and we will consider how that fits in this conversation.

Defining respect

What is respect? The Encarta dictionary defines it as "a sense or attitude of admiration and deference toward somebody or something." There are two areas of respect as noted in this definition. The very first is admiration. Why do parents deserve the admiration of these children?

Parents who have done an excellent job raising their kids have accomplished much that is admirable by the full time the teen years come around. They have kept kids fed, clothed, safe, and reasonably educated. None of those activities are easy jobs. Beyond looking after the basics, parents teach their kids important life skills, and provide an atmosphere of love and acceptance.

Teens don't always appreciate simply how much their parents do for them. The fact remains that without their parents, teens wouldn't even survive into the teen years. We will talk about how to help teens recognize their need to respect their parents later in this chapter.

Do parents have any reason showing admiration for teens? I think they do. Remember what we mentioned earlier, when we detailed the stages that children proceed through because they develop. Your teen moved from being a baby who couldn't do anything for him- or herself, to being fully a near adult, able to accomplish a lot of things and make decisions. (You might not agree with the decisions, but that's another matter.)

There is plenty of reason to admire all that the teen has accomplished in his or her short time on earth. Element of respecting your teen involves respecting what the teen has been doing, and acknowledging that he or she is growing in his or her ability to make decisions.

The 2nd aspect of respect as defined by Encarta is "deference." Deference means to put someone else's interests before your own personal, or even to

submit to someone else's judgment. From the teen's perspective, the 2nd element of this really is most important. Even though most teens hate to admit it, their parents do know a bit more than they do. (Although, it's true that kids think their parents get smarter as the children have more life experiences!)


Published by Matthew Piggot