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Teaching Your Children Respect Oops Respect is Earned Not Learned

Updated on June 25, 2011

Look Familiar


Trying to Teach Respect

If your trying to teach your kids respect and it’s not working out, it’s because respect is earned not learned. I mean you don’t see your kids coming home with homework for science, English, history, and respect. That’s because it’s not something that can be taught by a teacher. Although they may earn your childs respect and many other students while they are teaching, it’s not something we learn out of a book.

It Probably Didn't Start Out That Way


The Situation that Inspired this Hub

There was a situation the other day when I was standing in line shopping that inspired this hub, as situations usually do for me. While I was in line waiting for the lady with two smaller children in front of me to finish checking out, the mother and I’m guessing 14 or 15 year old daughter were arguing behind me. The young girl kept telling her mother she really needed it for a present for some ones birthday. I don’t have a clue what that “something” was but whatever it was she was pretty set on getting it. I mean she wasn’t rude but you know how kids are when they have their heart set on something. Then as the mother became a bit louder she literally with looks that made myself and I’m sure others think she was going to lose it stated very loudly, “You stupid little bitch. Can you not hear? I told you know no, now shut the hell up or else.” I have no idea what the “or else” was, and understand that parents get frustrated, but come on. This probably would have went off without a hitch until she looked at myself and the others stating, “Kids have no G.D. respect these days”.

I swear I tried with every breath I took not to say a word. I looked at the cashier who just opened her eyes really wide and looked up, and then I looked at the woman with the two children in front of me probably around 6-8 years old and when I saw their faces that was it. The little boy (older) started to say something and the mother quickly did the finger to the lips and a Shhhh.

I turned to her and said, “She must not of had a very good teacher.” I know I went to her level. Yep that’s right I wanted her to know how her daughter who was now hanging her head a if she had just been struck with a whip felt. The mother looked at me and stated, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Well I had already gone there so I replied, “Just what I said, she must not have had a very good respect teacher. But that just goes to show you that respect isn’t learned it’s earned, and you gotta give it before you can get it.” She looked at me and bowed up for a minute as if to make me bow down. Now mind you I am just shy of 6 ft without shoes and I have more wires, plates, screws, and metal in me to build a bridge. I also had absolutely no intentions of getting into a physical altercation with someone 20 years younger than I am and also because at this point in my life don’t think it proves anything other than your stronger at that moment than the other person (notice I said at that moment). But on the other hand I was not about to bow down and make her feel superior. So I stood a little straighter and gave her the look that for whatever reason seems to say it all and neither of us said another word. The cashier greeted me as if nothing was happening and we both told each other to have a good day.

What if No One Ever Said a Word

Now I’m sure most of you would have handled things differently and just let it go, but where do you draw the line before you say something. What if no one ever said a word and she knew no different because that’s the way she was brought up. Will she change her ways? Probably not, but if it makes her take a look at herself and maybe if she talk to someone else about it she'll realize there are other ways.

Was I a perfect parent? No, none of us are and that’s how we learn to be better at it and hopefully try to not make the same mistake our parents did. The one thing I have always tried is not to humiliate my son in public and myself in the process. Don’t think for a minute that when we got home or in the car that we didn’t have words sometimes, but as a child there were a few times that I will never forget when I felt like digging a hole, crawling in never to come out until I was an adult and could let them have it. I don’t think that way now but you get the idea.

I wrote an article awhile ago called Parents Getting Respect vs. Children Giving Respect (if you want to check it out just click on the title) where I talk about an incident that happened to me growing up, and how to sit down with your child with no distractions and have some good one on ones. I think were missing that these days because were so busy working and their so busy growing up that sometimes we miss some of the basics in life, like respect. The article also gives a few tips on how to get your child to give you respect without having to try and fight for it. I learned most of tips working on an adolescent behavior modification and chemical dependency unit.

Aretha Sang it Best

I think Aretha Franklin sang it best with the verse R E S P E C T find out what it means to me. What does respect mean to you and what does it mean to your children? It can’t hurt to ask. You may find out some interesting bits and pieces that make both of your lives a whole lot easier. Sometimes the shortest conversations and simplest questions lead to answers that totally astound us, and then we wonder why it took so long to get there.

Have an incredible day and give your child a big old hug and tell them you love and respect them as a person and their opinions matters. I don’t care how old they are just do it. If you say it and do it enough you will come to believe it and be shocked at the outcome.

Take Care


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    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Visionandfocus Yes sometimes I just put it out there, it's just one of those things that "gets my goat" As we have seen recently there is a true disengagement of parents and children and lack of respect not only for ones parents, but others as well. Your so right about it being a 24/7 job and there needing to be more resources. Thank you for your "hitting the nail on the head" comments and take care.

    • visionandfocus profile image


      6 years ago from North York, Canada

      Kudos to you for standing up to that woman. Not everyone is meant to parent, but most do it anyway just because they can. I know parenting is the hardest job on earth, it's 24/7 and you get frustrated as anyone would, but that's no excuse for offensive language. You're absolutely right that respect must be earned. I just wish parents had more resources to teach them how to parent in such a way that they're not dooming their children (and thereby themselves) to a troubled future.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Excellent hub. I totally concur with you.

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Moiragallaga Thank you for sharing your writing with us and I am so glad you joined HP. I really liked your blog and your hubs. Your insight with children and on other issues is so inspiring and so valid. Thank you for your valued time and wonderful comment. Talk to you soon

    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      What a wonderful post Charlu and I totally agree about the principle that respect is earned. the most effective method to earn that respect is by example. Thank you for dropping by my blog and for the lovely words and in turn I discovered yours with very inspiring posts.

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Dream On You know it's funny I was thinking when I wrote this even as an adult I NEVER smoked or drank in front of my father and rarely cussed. It wasn't because I was afraid of what he would do I just didn't out of respect for him. My step father was a whole different ball game but he played a very small part in my childhood. It's strange Thanks for stopping by and your wonderful support Take Care

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      7 years ago

      You responded bravely and today you have to be very careful.I hope the mother will think twice and you left an impact.You did the right thing but I have also noticed children treat their parents like their friends not parents.I wouldn't even raise my voice to my mother.She would recognize the tone of my voice and clearly say she would have none of that.I knew who the boss was.No was no and unless I acted properly I would be in more trouble when I got home.I had common sense to stop and no when I stepped over the boundaries.Today children have no common sense.I can relate to this story in many ways.Swearing at my mom or anyone even a friend was not done.You can think it but you better never say it.Great job.

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Mommytalks First let me say your avatar is so cute, I love that picture I tried to bite my tongue but when I looked at those children in front I just couldn't take it. Maybe the language was a factor too I just couldn't believe what I was hearing, I don't know.

      Just checked out your 20 Smores Recipes hub and it is awesome. I can't wait to try them. I love smores Thanks for dropping by and your great comment

    • mommytalks profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Great hub - a woman after my own heart! I *so* would have tried to bite my tongue but would not have succeeded! Mine are 5,4,and 2... I would have spoke up just for her language in front of other children! I mean, calling a kid "stupid" is just as bad, if not worse, than any other swear word! Some parents *rolls eyes*

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Wendi I assure you had the teenager talked to the mother that way, without the mother responding I still would have said something. I agree with you as far as boundaries, but I honestly think not stepping over the boundary line is also a form of respect. I was actually shocked that the child did not respond back but in turn hung her head. That means to me one of two things she realized she had crossed the line or two the "or else" was something I don't want to try and comprehend.

      When I was in nursing school I used to have a friend of mine from school kids over. It was 3 girls ages 6,9, and 14 One day while we were all riding in the car the 6 year old started acting out I turned around and gave her "the look". She started, no Ms Charlu not the look, spank me anything but not the look. Her mother was like what is up with that? I threaten to spank them punish them etc and they still keep on, and all you have to do is give them a look. I told her it was because that's all she did was threaten and never follows through with any of it. When I look at them that way, whatever ever I say next is a done deal and they know it and respect it.

      Sorry to ramble but I think your children abiding by your boundaries is a huge form of respect.

      Spanking is a discipline choice, not mine due to personal history, but I don't condone others for it.

      I think that children that are hitting, or abusing their parents need to be dealt with before it's to late and they think that is accepted behavior in other social settings. Sometimes they need a little tuff love and a wake up call. Thanks for your time, and comments. Take Care

    • wendi_w profile image


      7 years ago from Midwest

      As a parent of 6, I fall in the middle yes respect is earned however when children are very young you must also expect it and model it. None of my children would have dared argue with me in a public place in the manner you described, however I have never spoken to one of my children in that manner in public or private. However when my children were young I made it very clear there were boundaries. I absolutely will not tolerate, hitting, kicking, biting, or name calling and if it happened you would be spanked or slapped. No second chances no explanations, no reprieve. It is the only instances that I spanked my children. Out of the 6 , two tried it ... once.. the behavior was never repeated and there siblings learned from their example. I know this seems harsh but I have 4 boys .. who I knew would out be twice my size by 16, I made sure it was well established at 5 or 6 that there aren't certain things you don't do with Momma!You were appalled by the mother's actions in the store and yet I see children from toddlers to teens who routinely bully and abuse their parents in public and yet no one seems appalled by that. Children today will slap, hit , kick, and call parents name and yet no one seems shocked by this behavior, Respect does need to earned later on however when a child is young they also need to learn limits and discipline, there are consequences in life. And as parents it is our job to teach our children that

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Sholland10 First let me start by saying thank you for being a teacher and it sounds to me like you are really great at it. Then let me say thanks for taking the time to give them some positive reinforcement. Your hub is awesome and a great addition to this subject. Thanks for your time, comments, votes, and the wonderful things you do. Take Care

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 

      7 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I would have had to say something, too. You handled it very well. The daughter is going to probably grow up and parent in the same way. I have students who are so good for me, and some are treated badly at home with name calling and irrational accusations. Granted, I must tread lightly, but when I see the student is telling the truth after talking to the parent, I try to do damage control. The student is good to me, so I am good to the student (but it started with me as the adult). I tell the student how to build a defense by reminding themselves that Mrs. H thinks they are great kids and they know in their hearts that they are good people.

      I don't know, maybe it is the past generations in the 20th century have all said, "I want my child to have it better than I did." Now we have a generation of parents who don't know how to give because they "had it better" than their parents. Just a thought.

      Great hub!! Voted Up and awesome!

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Peggy I thought about both case scenarios after I left. Like you said you know it's got to be pretty bad at home if she's willing to go that far in public. Of course the bad stuff happens here a lot to but I didn't think about that until after either.

      FYI I am still working on the back porch/stalls where I got some ideas from your Tiny Boxwood Cafe and Nursery hub. I think that place is so awesome looking. Thanks for dropping by and your comments. Talk to you soon

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Mary I know I love that show and wondered if John was going to come walking around the corner. Thanks for your support. I'm waiting for another one of your hubs like The Delightful Images of Summer, I just got done reading it again Take Care and thanks again for your support and comments

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      If that mother treats her daughter that way in public places, I can't even imagine what the homelife must resemble. Poor girl! You were brave to confront the mother and hopefully it will give her a moment to reflect on what she is doing to her daughter. I say brave...because in this day and age one never knows the consequences of confronting people. Do they have a quick trigger mind and a gun? One hears of senseless killings so least it makes the news here in Houston. Kudos to you for speaking up!

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Maggie May I am grateful I found you. The song you wrote Raising the Storm Clouds is awesome and the video is terrific. Just goes to show you what you can find hopping hubs. In reference to the situation I just couldn't believe the way she talked to her it was awful and I felt so bad for the girl. Thank you for your valuable time and great comments I look forward to sharing more hubs

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Bravo to you for saying something because something definitely had to be. That poor girl and what a stupid Mom. Have you ever watched that show "What Would You Do?" If I didn't know better I would say you were on the show. Good job Charlu...

    • Maggie-May profile image

      Nadine M AuCoin 

      7 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      This is an awesome hub--truly a great topic, and I must give you credit for speaking your mind--you did good on saying something, and you are right it isn't said enough... Do onto others as you wish to be treated and eventually it will work itself out--that's my motto...great hub!!! And thanks for leading me to you, take care MM


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