I want to relate a painful story that happens all too often.
You won’t see it on the evening news.
There’s no blood, outward violence, or even a punishable crime.
Incidents like this are terribly unfair, but nobody is protesting against them.
Yet they’re causing untold trauma and humiliation, every day.
Can you guess what it is?
Let me give you a hint: you may have experienced it yourself as a child.
No, not sexual or physical abuse, which is horrific and is beyond the scope of this article.
Instead, I’m talking about a much more subtle, yet damaging experience that happens when parents aren’t aware of just how powerfully their words impact their kids.
Here’s the story:
I was at a restaurant and sat next to a family with a boy who was about nine or ten years old. This is what the mother said to him:
“I said change seats! It’s not for negotiation,” she ripped into him, “And you’re not the boss!”
Were you ever treated this way by your parents?
If you were, you probably would have concluded that you don’t matter, you don’t have a voice, and that it’s okay for people to treat you this way—and for YOU to treat them this way.
Perhaps this woman would never have spoken like this to her spouse, her mother, or the server. But for some reason, she thought it was perfectly okay to do so with a child.
I’ll tell you the reason why: because many of us—sadly due to way we were brought up—believe that children are exempt from basic rules of showing dignity and respect.
We think that it’s our job to tell them what to do simply because we are adults. And while it is our role as parents to guide our children, there is no rulebook that says we must wield power in a disrespectful way. In fact, it will sabotage your best efforts as a parent.
Once I was at brunch with my husband, and next to me was a woman with a five-year-old. I noticed that the mother was on the phone the whole time.
Now, I hardly do this, but I looked at her and said, “I’m a parenting educator. Would you mind if I shared something with you?”
Luckily, she said, “No, not at all.”
I said to her, “When you do that—when you look at your iPhone while your child is talking to you—she’s not going to feel very important.”
And she said, “Oh my God! I hate it when my husband does that! I don’t feel important. Thank you!”
Isn’t it funny how we don’t stop to think that our children, even though they may be small, feel big feelings just the way we do?
My passion is to help people see that they want to be treated with the same dignity and respect that their kids should be treated with.
It’s really very simple: if something feels hurtful or dismissive to you, assume it’s no different for your children. When we treat others—including and especially our children—the way we want to be treated, we are promoting dignity and respect for all.
It’s interesting that many parents expect and even demand that their children treat them with dignity and respect, yet they don’t treat their children this way.
I used to tell my kids, “Don’t treat me with dignity and respect because I’m your mother, you treat me that way because it’s how we treat people.”
I wouldn’t tell my kids to shut up, and I wouldn’t expect them to speak with me that way, either. It’s not about letting them get away with poor behavior, but about teaching them that dignity and respect are not selective. We can communicate our needs and desires in a way that is authentic yet respectful.
Let’s look at another subtle way we don’t show dignity or respect.
When we call our children the moment we’re ready to sit down to dinner, or expect them to drop whatever they’re doing to leave the house, we’re communicating that their needs don’t matter—our schedule requires their presence, and that’s that.
Instead, we can give our children ample warning—15 minutes before we need them. We can ask them what they’re doing, acknowledge that it’s probably very important, and ask them if they can conclude what they doing in 15 minutes because dinner would be ready or we would be leaving the house.
If we treat our children with dignity and respect and honor what is important to them, the odds are good that they would respect our needs without forming any negative beliefs about themselves—or choosing partners in the future who disrespect them.
You would never say to your husband or your wife, “Let’s go, dinner now.”
So why do we think that it is okay to talk to our children—our most beloved creatures in the world—in a way that we wouldn’t talk to anybody else?
As a child, did you feel powerful or powerless?
Did you feel important or not important?
Did you feel that who you were mattered, or not?
Can you imagine how it would be if you had been parented consciously the way I’m talking about—with dignity and respect?
If we parent our children consciously and we treat them with dignity and respect, they will treat us with dignity and respect, and they will treat others with dignity and respect, and I believe that this is what is going to change the world.
That’s why I’m so passionate about my audio program Parenting That Empowers. I’m going to be giving you a complete blueprint for how to raise your children with dignity and respect so they feel that they matter, and they grow up never settling for relationships that make them feel otherwise.
When you start implementing the tools in the program, you’ll marvel at how your child’s self esteem grows, your relationship with your children deepens, and your child treats YOU with the dignity and respect you crave.
As a mother of two, I know that you need to get things done. I know you need them to cooperate. That’s why I’ll also teach you how to use humor and games to get children to do what you want—without resorting to demands, manipulation, or threats.
You’ll also learn specific language and communication techniques you can model to your child so that he treats others with respect and dignity.Tools For Conscious Parenting
We get what we give, and this is especially true in parenting. When you treat your child with dignity and respect, you multiply dignity and respect throughout the world, starting right in your own living room.
P.S. My husband always used to say that he uses parenting skills and tools to talk to his employees and associates. It really works, because what these tools are about is speaking to people with dignity and respect.Communication Skills That Work