Respect is not just a vital ethical virtue; it is also an essential foundation for good relationships. Teens who show disrespect by ignoring, belittling, insulting or defying their parents make effective parenting difficult and unpleasant, if not impossible. Therefore, a central goal of good parenting is to teach your children to respect you.
You also have a duty to treat your teen with respect. Again, this is not only an obligation of conscience but also a practical necessity. Parents who yell, manipulate, insult, demean, abuse or ignore their children erect huge barriers to effective parenting.
Treating people with respect means letting them know that their safety and happiness matter, that they are important. To teach our children to be respectful, we need to translate the moral principal of respect into specific attitudes and actions.
Here are seven basic rules of respect:
- Honor the individual worth and dignity of others.
- Treat others with courtesy and civility.
- Honor reasonable social standards of propriety and decency and personal beliefs, customs and traditions that are important to others.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Accept and tolerate individual differences and judge others on the content of their character and their abilities rather than religion, race, ethnicity or ideology.
- Honor the right of adults and the desire of maturing children to control and direct their own lives.
- Avoid using physical force or intimidation, and refrain from improper threats of force.
Here are some points to keep in mind as you strive to model a respectful attitude for your teen:
- Listen to your teen without judging or criticizing.
- Let your teen make his or her own decisions as much as possible.
- Refrain from saying "I told you so" when your teen fails after ignoring your advice - not easy, but important!
- Never make fun of your teen.
- Give your teen your full attention when he or she talks to you.
- Respect their privacy and possessions.
- Avoid doing things yourself that you don't want your teen to do: using bad manners, arguing, using offensive language and negative comments.
This information comes from Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen, a joint project of CHARACTER COUNTS! and Common Sense Parenting®.
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