Family Tip 14 - Restoring Respect in the Family
- the honor due to someone because of his or her position, authority, and/or level of responsibility
- the understanding that something or someone is valuable, important and worthy and must be treated in an appropriate manner
- the consequence of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by abilities, qualities, achievements and virtue.
If respect needs admiration to survive, what do we give our children to admire?
Society goes to great lengths to tear down and ridicule everything that could be or should be admirable. It pokes fun at fathers, mothers, family and authority of any kind. What can we do about it?
— You will help children learn how to revere and respect God and His Holy Church
— You will help others to love God
— You will be respected and respectable
— Children around you will learn respect for others
— You will avoid loneliness as respect and courtesy attracts and selfishness and rudeness repel
— You will store up in Heaven a great treasure for the good you have done for souls
1 – Revere God and His Holy Church
Who is more worthy of respect than God Himself? And if a child is not taught to respect God who is truly worthy of all respect and all admiration, then it becomes difficult to teach a child to respect anyone else.
Children are taught through both word and deed, it is therefore imperative that adults in a position of authority or influence show how much they respect God.
The starting point is taking the children to Church, attending Mass and teaching them to pray by showing them that you pray. The Family Rosary is a wonderful step in this process. All activities cease and are considered secondary in order to dedicate a period of time to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. This teaches children that Our Lord and Our Lady are worthy of great respect.
Respect shown at Mass is crucial. If children are allowed to act in church the same way they act in the backyard at home, no respect will be cultivated.
When adults treat a church like an auditorium, speaking in loud voices, and conversing about things that have nothing to do with the Mass, the Church or piety, children are being taught that God and the Church are nothing different than everything else and that God deserves no special reverence or respect.
However, when adults are reverent, quiet, respectful and pious, it teaches children that God and the Church are worthy of unique respect and reverence.
2 – Be Respectable and Respect Yourself
Each of us are called to represent God to others. In a very unique way, parents represent God to their children. This also holds true for other family members. In a child’s mind, God is reflected by and oftentimes seen through the eyes, behavior, attitudes, body language, and verbal expressions of those around them. Sadly, and all too often, God is not made respectable by those who represent Him.
For example, if a person that the child perceives is greater than he, e.g. parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, teachers, etc., always responds with anger to any situation, then the child will begin to associate anger with authority. God is the ultimate authority, therefore He is always angry.
This, of course, leads to the inevitable conclusion of the responsibility that each of us has to reflect God appropriately as much as we are able.
Make yourself respectable. The more you respect yourself, the more others will be able to respect you.
Teach by example. Always improve yourself and make every effort to increase in virtue. If you suffer from impatience, always be improving in some way, so that children are able to notice improvement and admire and respect virtue through you.
“Do as I say and not as I do” is the destroyer of all respect! Never have this contradiction in your life. Always be a shining example of consistency for children. If you wish to teach children patience, be patient. If you wish to teach children to be disciplined, then you be disciplined in your own life and in your own affairs. This cultivates respect and admiration in children.
As St. Paul teaches, honor (respect) your spouse. Do not argue with your spouse. If you display anger and animosity toward your spouse, then children will learn to do the same to you. If you honor and respect your spouse always, children will learn to do the same to you and to others.
Avoid the perfection trap. Do not demand perfection that you do not have. Always encourage and require improvement, but do not destroy respect by requiring from children what you do not possess yourself.
Beware of pride and obstinacy. Nothing will undermine respect and admiration quicker.
Strive to have in yourself and in the home a balance of firmness and gentleness. The American model of a man who has to be rigid, stern, unforgiving and always right is very, very far from the Catholic model of manhood.
3 - Expect Respect
Never allow, permit or tolerate disrespect or rudeness. Be counter-cultural. Teach children that actions and behavior have consequences.
Establish clear and reasonable rules, expectations and guidelines in the home for every age. Every child will go through a time when he challenges authority. Understand that this happens, but never tolerate the behavior that accompanies it. Help them work through this time in their life with patience.
Put family first. Do not create or cultivate the lie that the child comes first. If you do this, then the child will become self-centered, egotistical and disrespectful. Children need love, affection, a sense of belonging and direction from adults within the family environment, not weakness, inconsistency and permissive parenting.
As Dr. Leonard Sax recommends: “Prioritize the family. The family meal at home is more important than piling on after-school extracurricular activities. Instead of boosting self-esteem, teach humility.” With this in mind, strategize to undermine selfishness; no one is the center of the universe except Our Lord Jesus Christ. Make sure that this is clear, above all through your actions.
4 – Beware of the “Parenting Trap” (this point is specifically for parents)
Our modern society emphasizes that being ”liked” is one of the ultimate goals in life. This undermines a fundamental aspect of parenting, as many parents today abandon their mission and their duties just so they can be liked by their children.
Parents are not called by God to be their child's friend.
So what are they called to do?
Parents are called by God to:
- raise their children and place their children's feet on the path that leads to Heaven.
- teach their children the True Faith and how to live a life of virtue.
- educate, to form, to teach, to guide, to support, to love, to defend, to discipline, and to care for their children in all things.
- accept a full-time responsibility that is rich with blessings and tempered by sorrows.
Parents are not called by God to be their child's buddy. Trying to become their child's buddy will undermine parents' respectability. Children need to be able to admire and respect their parents, not have them as buddies.
This does not mean that it is wrong for parents and children to be friends. In fact, it is a true blessing when parents and children form true friendships. It is wrong and harmful, however, for parents to sacrifice their mission as parents just so they can be liked by their children and be their children's friend.
The great challenge:
Isn’t it about time that we stop following the beat of the drum of a culture that teaches tolerance of all that is evil and disregard for all that is good? Isn’t it high time that you and I become true reflections of Our Lord Jesus Christ to those around us, especially the children in our lives? Why not set a higher standard than mediocrity and complacency? Let us honor and respect God above all things, let us make ourselves respectable and let us give and require respect so children will also learn how to respect God.
DAILY QUOTE for July 24, 2021
SAINT OF THE DAY
St. Charbel Makhlouf
John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California