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Respect in the Home
Respect in the Home
When I grew up, it was with the knowledge that family was the most important thing to me, and that nothing should compromise that ideal. Now, seeing in society today the way that families will treat each other, to me, is daunting. Respect for each other in the home seems to be lacking. Children—and I mean ages as young as five or six—will cuss and swear at their parents as if they were all down at the local bar about ready to get have a brawl. I have witnessed parents, desperately trying to control their children’s behavior, go overboard, by instead of showing respect at the same time of disciplining, they will cut the kid down with insults and demeaning words that cut like a knife to the self-esteem, and make them feel guilty for showing the behavior taught to them by their parents.
Once, when I was in a grocery store, I witness a child about the age of four years old, yelling, cussing, screaming, and hitting his mother with full blown fists at her legs because she would not buy him, or allow him to take a candy bar. It was the most appalling display of behavior I have ever seen. His mother was in tears as this little child swore at her like an abusive husband. Before I even realized what was doing, I march up to this little kid, and took him by the shoulders and told him to be quiet until after I told him what I needed to tell him.
This child was very surprised that a strange would have the guts to come and speak to him at all. I bent down to where I could see his eyes, and he could see mine. I wanted to be at his level. He seemed to act like a much older man than his age appeared, so I treated him as I would any adult—because that is how he acted.
With a very firm voice, I informed this child that if he continued to hit his mother, that I would call the police and ensure that he would be put in a place where he could not hurt her again. I informed him that with actions like this in public, or at home, that little kids can be taken away by the state, and parents could get into trouble, and sometimes never see their child again. I asked him if this was what he wanted. Did he want a home with parents that love him, or with strangers that may or may not love him the way he should be loved? I guess, because I was a stranger, that perhaps it may have been the reason he suddenly stopped, and ran to his mother crying and said he was sorry for the way he acted.
His mother, who was very angry with me for stepping over the line, and intervening where I didn’t belong suddenly startled with her son at her legs crying into her skirt, and looked at me in amazement; she told me that she was intending to give a piece of her mind, and that I should mind my own business (which was probably true). However, she started crying again when she heard her son say he was sorry. She told me that he has never said this before…ever.
When I asked her point blank if her son had this behavior at home too, she said that ever since she started allowing a neighbor down the street to babysit him, he started showing this behavior. She said her abusive husband had just been placed in prison for abuse and her son was taken away, while the state investigated the family. She said that she just recently found out about this situation two or three days ago. The babysitter had their child taken away, which may have been this little boy’s fear when I mentioned it, because it held a ring of truth of possibilities.
It has been my experience that most children will reflect the actions of the adults they are around. If there is no respect given or taken in the home; respect will not be taught. However, if there is respect, and allowances for effective communication, then the respect is reciprocated in the home, and understanding is more solidly in place for each member of a family.
My mother was my best friend growing up. She always told me that whether I wanted it or not, she would give her opinion on a matter. It was up to me to choose if I wanted to listen, but she wouldn’t feel right if she at least didn’t try to tell me something that might make a difference in my life. On the flip-side, if I felt that I needed to say something to her, I would have that right as long as it was in a respectful manner. I sometimes laugh now, because there were times that if I was angry, there was no way what I had to say would come out in a respectful manner.
My mom would tell me if you are angry, you better tell me how you want this statement to come across before you say the words, because then I would know your intent. She told me that if I was angry at her, then I needed to say so, because then she would know that these will be angry words and may be hurtful toward her, but she would be more understanding of where the words are coming from without having to take them too personally. When I was an adolescent, she would ask me how I felt before I had something to say. It seems to me that this would be one of the most important things to know. How do I feel before I say anything to anyone? Where do I stand, and what is the intent of these words? As a child, it seems that we aren’t sure how we are feeling. As a parent, all we can do is guess, and assume what our children are feeling; like we do when our children are infants and all we have to go by is not words, but how they sound when they cry.
One day I knew I was in trouble with my own child when I took a balloon away from him. He was about eighteen months, and was actually chewing on a blown up balloon. I told him that he could not have this because it was dangerous. He still couldn’t talk at this time… he was a bit development delayed. I knew he was angry, but I guess I didn’t realize how much I babied him. He threw such a temper tantrum that he actually came over and hit me. I just told him that I was sorry, but the balloon was dangerous and I could not allow him to play with it.
My mother, who saw how he was treating me, asked me if I was going to allow him to treat me like that. I told her that he has never hit me before, and I acknowledged he was a little bit spoiled, but really doesn’t know any better. Beside it isn’t as though he would be able to say he was sorry to me.
Mom, being the person she is, decided to tell me that the men in our family have very hot tempers, and if we allow them to reign free from this young of age, then someone is liable to get hurt. She also reminded me that even a boy at Michael’s age can find a way to say he was sorry. Mom went over to Michael and got down to his level.
“I never want to see you hit your mother again,” she said in her most stern voice. Well, mom proved that although Mike was that young, he still had plenty of understanding. He was still angry, and just to prove he had the upper hand, he came over to me again and brought up his hand and slapped my leg. Well, my mother was obviously very aware of how this should end. After all she was the 11th out of 12 children in her family. She knew exactly how to deal with this.
“Apologize to her, Michael; this is the wrong way to act.” He grinned and then he hit me again. Mom tried one more time, “I understand that you are angry, but you will apologize to her, or you will go to my room and stay there until you can come out and apologize to her and to me for behaving this way. Hitting your mother or anyone in my home is not nice, and very rude, and hurtful to me. I don’t like it, and I do not have to stand for it.” Michael again raised his hand, while glaring at my mother in defiance, and slapped me again. Mom snapped.
“That rips it!” These were mom’s favorite words of warning before the final straw was handed out on a platter. She went over and picked up Michael and took him to her room. She sat in the room with him talking to him and explaining things to him for a good hour and half. He cried and cried, and then he started crying for me saying momma the whole time. I could hear my mother telling him that nobody likes to be hit, and she would not allow him to treat me this way. She told him that she will not have me come into the room until he was ready to apologize first.
He cried more loudly, eventually making himself hoarse. Mom just stayed calm telling him that his crying will do no good because this bed is where he is going to stay until he apologized. She would stay with him for as long as it took—and my mother was nothing if not tenacious. Another half hour went by before my son finally settled down and cried to sleep. Mom let him sleep for a little while, but when he woke up it was time for round two. Mom said when he opened his eyes she was the first thing he saw and he started crying again. Mom kept asking him if he was ready to apologize and he screamed, “NO!” Mom showed him and taught him how to “sign” sorry. He demonstrated he could do it and what it meant, because he calmed down and pointed to his grandma and circled his chest with his hand. Mom smiled and gave him a hug. She asked him if he was saying he was sorry to her, and he nodded yes. Then she asked him if he was ready to say he was sorry to his mother. Once again he suddenly screamed, “NO!”
Round three had commenced. Mom again talked to him calmly while he cried and screamed himself hoarse. She told him how others can go to hospitals for getting hurt. She told him how hitting and hurtful words will hurt feelings and create hurtful homes. She told him how much her mother loved him and asked him if he wanted to hurt her. She just kept going like the energizer bunny. I am surprised she didn’t go hoarse either. She held him when he tried to get sympathy, but she didn’t change her words. She stroked his back while he cried and screamed.
Two hours after round three, he stopped crying. He knew his fate was sealed, and that my mother was more determined and stubborn than he was. He came out to me with his hand in my mother’s. He looked up at her and then at me with the most pitiful eyes I had ever seen. He let go of my mother’s hand and brought it to his chest and circled his chest saying his was sorry. His eyes got all tearful, and then came to hug me and didn’t let go until after he was asleep.
Mom, how had a huge gleam of almost smug satisfaction, told me that he was pretty stubborn, but she had faced worse. She told me that I needed to get a hold over his temper now, or it will be way out of control later. The terrible thing is I didn’t recognize it.
From then on I started paying much closer attention to be aware of how my kids were behaving. I had to go a round or two with him myself, once again using my mother as an example. My second child was dealt with in the same manner, only younger; as soon as the behaviors had begun. However, respect was demanded from my children, and I gave them respect for their feelings, and what it was they wanted to tell me.
Now, my children are very good friends of mine. They love me and care for me and their family with a passion that leaves no doubt that the family is their first priority. I am so proud of them for this. They will make very good fathers by teaching their children what respect is within the home one day.
Now, I know that each situation is different. I know that there are sometimes issues with children or parents that cannot be corrected this way due to some sort of situation that is in need of extra help. Yet, I believe we as parents, or we as their children—because I know that sometimes the children are more aware than the adults are—can make ourselves aware of what might be going on in our home and call it to attention, the sooner we will be able to help each other make it so that our families are the most important meaning in our lives, and that nothing should be above that ideal.
I strongly believe that Satan attacks us within our families first be arranging contention in the home, and somehow tear our families apart. If he succeeds, then we have no safe-haven; our children have no escape, and there is no support for any of us. We are not going to find in the schools or public places of education what we should find in our home. There is no love in the world, but there is love in the home, and if we can establish this as a number-one value, then there is no way we can be torn apart
Let’s keep our families together. No matter where our lives take us in the world, let’s ensure that our family members know that they can always come home.