Teaching Children Respect: Lessons Learned as a Mom

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Baby boy in playpenI remember my pregnancy with Jonathan like it was yesterday. I even remember the day I tested (and then the next morning when I tested again to be sure before I told David!). I remember the morning sickness (well, all-day sickness), wearing maternity clothes far before I needed them because I was so excited, telling my family and friends,…. So, if I remember all of this so vividly, please explain to me how it has possibly been 10 years since this all started??? How on Earth did that happen?

I had always heard that the older you get, the faster time goes. And, as my kids remind me constantly, “kid time” moves MUCH slower than “adult time” does. When church runs a little long, every minute feels like an hour according to Jonathan. I always tell them to just LISTEN to the words and it won’t be so “boring”, but that falls on deaf ears. They hear what they want to hear and listen to what they want to listen to. Problem is, it’s often the wrong things that they hear. So, I wanted to post some reflections of things I have learned and want to instill in my child(ren) as he grows up and, too quickly, becomes a man.

Respect is a BIG deal

Respect yourself, respect your family, respect your friends, respect your world… I can remember times when I’ve been angry at my children and I HAVE lost it with them. I will not claim that I am perfect in that regard (or even close). But, over the years I have learned that if I want them to respect and do things for me, I have to first respect them and lead by example.

Jonathan is struggling with a friend right now who has sort of “outgrown him”. In our conversations about it, he’s made me proud. Today, he simply said, “I still treat him like I did before even if he’s mean to me. One day he’ll realize that I’m still his friend and he’ll decide to be friends with me again. I’m not worried about it.” Those words made me cry. Cry because I am sad for him, but also because I am more proud than words can express. He’s a kind soul and a loyal friend. Now, if only I could get him to clean up his room without being asked a million times and to eat any fruits or veggies that weren’t yellow, we’d be golden. Hopefully, with time, respect for his body and what goes in it will come too. That’s something I can live with for now. (Update: They are buds again just a few shorts weeks later!)

Life is Short

4 year old boyDon’t sweat the small stuff. As a parent, your kids can and will test you. As long as it’s not dangerous or hurting anyone, I’ve learned to just go with it. Elijah has a habit of putting on his clothes backwards. Sometimes he’s okay with turning them around. Sometimes he’s not. I ask. If he says no, really, who is it going to hurt? It just isn’t worth the battle. They’re only little once and, one day, you’ll wish picking out clothes was not a decision filled with drama (If you are like me, you remember the days when what you wore to school mattered a lot more than how you did in school- although I did do well in both areas, I think.).

Use your Time Wisely

You can’t get time back. This world is full of “stuff” to do. Video games may be fun, but you don’t learn very much from them. Life is too short and goes too fast to “waste” time that could be spent enjoying the world around you. Plus, there’s always to car ride to the next adventure to play said video games. 😉

Love One Another

When my friend recently said that I wish we could fast-forward our preteens (temporarily) 30 years into the future and show them how silly the little, petty arguments are, it really struck me. We talk a lot about being a family and what that means. You help each other out, you look out for one another, you use nice words with one another, and, with the little ones, nice touches are stressed. But, this extends past just family. Really, it is a good lesson for anyone you encounter. If you’re really nice to someone, it’s hard for them to be mean to you. So, show love to everyone around you. It will make the world a nicer place!

Hold Onto the Memories

10 year old boy playing in tree(Photo credit: Jessica Goss of Lilywillow Photography)

While I can’t turn back the clock and re-live any of the last 10 years since Jonathan (my first child) was born, I have wonderful memories to fall back on. I just wish that I had realized exactly how fast it would go so I could savor a few of those memories a little more. Paid a little closer attention to the details surrounding events, his reactions to the first time he saw Mickey Mouse in person and rode his bike on 2 wheels for the first time, his expression the first time he had his favorite food (pizza),….

I wish the world for Jonathan. The next 10 years will bring SO MANY new things- driving a car, girlfriends (well, he says he has one now, but…), college, maybe even moving out (the horror!),…. I have a lot I still want him to learn. We’ll both make mistakes along the way. I have no doubt. But, one thing I have learned from watching other friends with older kids is that, even if they make mistakes, generally, if you teach them right from wrong and show them love and affection, they will turn out okay in the end. He will become a man. A man I can be proud of. Well, he better anyway! That’s the goal!

Happy 10th birthday, Jonathan! I love you so much more than you will ever know! Your spirit fills me with joy each and every day. I can only hope that the next 10 years are as filled with joy, wonder and laughter as the first 10.

Mother of four boys and the wife of a minister in Georgia. The world is full of medical “miracles” but over time and lots of experience, this mom has discovered that raising a natural baby creates the most wonderful bonds and lessons for her children.

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