I always wanted to raise my children to understand that respect has to be earned. I want them to learn that the actions and behaviors they chose will dictate who they become and how they are seen.
But, as one of my favorite Pinterest quotes says, “I was a perfect parent, then I had kids.”
I am now unfortunately the perpetrator of the “I am the parent and you will respect me” doctrine.
My 9 year old, Isabel, has ADD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). So her inattentiveness, lack of focus and impulsive reactions due to her ADD are coupled with a noncompliance that would make the Sex Pistols quake in their Doc Martens.
So there are understandably times when her behaviour crosses that extra line that I’ve drawn for her way past that line that most kids her age already try to cross.
This morning she was being particularly combative. Arguing with her sister, being snappy and rude, moody and grumpy.
When she answered my question of “have you brushed your hair yet?” with “you should mind your own business”, I told her she was grounded for 3 days.
After school we had a long talk about how she is not allowed to talk to me that way. I told her “I am the parent and you are the child. It is not going to be equal all the time and you will have to accept that. You cannot disrespect me the way you did this morning, that is not how things work.” I explained to her that if she disrespected her teacher that way, she would be sent to the Principal’s office and her parents would be called. I told her that if she disrespected her coach that way he would bench her for the rest of the game. I said when you have a job, if you disrespect your boss that way, you will get fired. I said it’s the same in the house. I am the grown up, I am the authority figure. You are the child. You may not talk to me that way. And if you do, there will be major consequences.
In telling my child that she has to respect me just because I’m the ‘grown up’, I felt I was going against everything I wanted to instil in her, that respect is earned, not given. But it’s also a parent’s job to prepare their children for the real world. And in the real world, there are hierarchies. And you need to know your place. And whether you’re a naughty child pushing their luck, or a disgruntled mid level pencil pusher, that’s where you learn to make the decision to work harder to earn the respect you need, to move on up the ranks.