Teaching Kids Respect and Love

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Two boys on back laughing on floorI’ve always been a skeptic of love at first sight.  Sure, I knew very quickly that my husband was “the one”.  From the moment I saw him, I can honestly say I was attracted to him.  Well, okay, not THE moment because I connected him with a dead squirrel smoking a cigarette on the front porch of my dorm the first time I saw him. But, that’s a whole other story (which I later found out he had very little to do with).

Within that first night, however, I definitely felt something.  Not love though.  No, sorry David, definitely not love that first night.  So, yeah, I was a skeptic. That is, until my kids were born.  THAT, my friends, is true love at first sight.  And, it’s a total mushy, gushy, deep down, so much it hurts kind of love.

“With Love Comes Great Responsibility”

So, once the initial daze wears off, you realize you have this new little person to raise.  A person who will grow into an adult one day.  And, what parent doesn’t want to raise their child to be a wonderful adult? I mean, sure it’s fun experiencing all of the little (and big) milestones along the way.  It’s fun seeing them crawl and then walk and then run, hearing those first words turn into talking back (okay, maybe that second part is not so fun!), and watching them go from a tiny little kindergartener to a high school (and/or college) graduate!  But, the end result is a responsible, respectable, kind, generous, loving ADULT, right??? What a HUGE responsibility to put on someone’s shoulders (why did I do this four times? LOL)!!!

In light of the recent presidential election and the questions that come with having older kids when a country is so divided on so many issues, it really got me thinking about just how huge the responsibility is for parents to raise their children with a loving heart.  They are exposed to the hatred, the lies, the cruelty, the disrespect… (I could go on all day) that the rest of us are exposed to during election season.  We may not realize how much they pick up on, but the questions my kids asked assured me that they DO pick up on it.  How we respond (in all situations) shapes who they will become.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Find Out What it Means to Me!”

During the months of October and November, I “unfollowed” many people on Facebook because of negative posts – both democrat and republican.  You put a picture of a horse’s (maybe it was a Donkey?) rear end and compare it to my president, whether I like him or not, you will be blocked from my feed.  That is one question I don’t want to field from my children.  Point blank, it is disrespectful.  He is a human being just like you.  I do my best to teach my children that differences are a wonderful thing.

Understanding Diversity as a Child

Boys huggingJonathan, my oldest, has dark green eyes, dark brown hair and pretty dark skin.  Micah and Elijah have blond hair, light blue/green eyes and are about as white as white can get (although they call themselves “peach”, not white!  Smart kids!!! ;)).  Isaac is sort of in the middle with light brown hair and darker blue/grey eyes.  Point is, they are all different.  Even my two middle guys, who have similar coloring, look very little alike otherwise.  So, when Jonathan came home in kindergarten asking why some of the kids were brown and he was peach, my answer was that it was the same as how he has brown hair and Micah has blond.  It doesn’t make them “different”, it just makes them unique and everyone is unique.  It’s what makes the world interesting and wonderful!  Diversity is beautiful!  That’s part of what makes America so wonderful.  Diverse cultures AND, yes, diverse beliefs.

Teaching Respect

So, why do we often make something so beautiful, so bad?  Is loving everyone, regardless of how different they might be, so bad?  It comes down to respect.  I don’t know a parent who doesn’t want his/her child to be respectful.  It is why we teach our kids manners, right?  I hear a lot of “Yes Ma’ams” and “No, Ma’ams” around here in South Georgia.  But, in the same breath that I hear a parent chastise a child for not using manners, I can also hear a comment so filled with hate and ignorance that it truly hurts my heart to the core for that child.

Respect is a little word with a very big meaning.  If we want our children to show respect for us, we must first show them what respect is.  It starts very early on with children.  Teaching a child not to hit by spanking them?  It doesn’t make much logical sense and sends mixed messages, but it also doesn’t teach them that you respect them.  No, they shouldn’t run the show.  But teaching children in a positive ways how to treat others will go a long way with nipping the hitting, biting… in the bud before it becomes a huge issue.

This continues as they grow older.  We must model how we want our children to behave.  A human life is a human life, no matter how different that life may be from the way we live ours.  Judging, ridiculing and persecuting perpetuates an atmosphere of hate that will continue for generations.  Disrespect, seems to me, to be catchy. Poor attitudes breed more poor attitudes.  The same goes for love.  Teach your children to love and respect each other and it will spread.  We need a little more love in the world today.  It starts at home.

Respect and Our World

Green leaf heartSo, you may be asking, “How does this soap box blog entry relate to Natural Parenting?” by now.  I’ll tell you how, and it’s simple.  Respect starts at home, as I said.  Respecting one another in the home spreads to respecting all others.  If you care about the human race, you’ll want to preserve the human race.  How do we preserve the human race?  We do that by preserving our world – which, again, starts at home.

Love our Earth

Recycling, conserving electricity, conserving water, …  are all easy things we can do to ensure a better world for our children.  And, leading by example ensures that they will carry on that tradition and keep the world around for future generations.

We can’t control what others do, but we can do our part out of love and respect for the world we present to our children.  I challenge you to try spreading more love in your home instead of wasting time on hate and negativity.  Be an example to your kids by living out respect.  Whether it’s giving back to another person or giving back to our world, I challenge you to think about your impact before you think or act.  One person at a time, we CAN create a world filled with love and respect.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!?!  I sure think so!

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