Respect and parenting

My wife recently said to me that she doesn’t want our son hanging out at a certain house because of the lack of respect shown to the mother of the house.  I am in complete agreement.  As a parent of two girls and one boy, I have found it important that my children treat everyone equally.  They are allowed to have a difference of opinion, but need to be respectful of other people’s opinions and ways of life.  My children are taught that they have choices and how they act reflects upon who they are in the eyes of the world.  

It is always difficult to teach kids respect. Often times they are learning from the world around them.  The kids in the playgrounds, their cousins, teachers, coaches, television, and movies often influence their minds.  It can be overwhelming growing up and witnessing the opposite of what your parents tell you is right from wrong.  My wife and I try and have adult discussions with our children when something comes up.  We’ve talked about religion, volunteering, acts of kindness, bullying, sexual orientation, racism, sexism, hate, lies, fears, death… Pretty much anything the kids have asked us about, we haven’t shied away from discussing and that has proven challenging.

No one said being a parent is easy.  It starts when they’re born and you’re just making sure they’re fed, clean, & safe.  It becomes more challenging as they get older and their world becomes bigger.  Soon you’re seeing that not all parents and their children are the kinds of people you want to be around.  

As much as I want to tell someone how to parent in the style that I’d approve of, it’s not my place to do so.  It’s not my place to tell people to believe or not believe in a god.  Nor is it my place to tell someone to vaccinate their kids.  Those are choices that parents make based on how they were raised.  I am mindful that not everyone shares my parenting style.  My wife and I sometimes butt heads as well on certain topics.  One of the things we agree upon though, is that men and women should be treated as equals.  

In our household, everyone does their share.  Chores aren’t divided into his or hers responsibility.  Games and movies aren’t strictly segregated for boys or girls.  Treating each with respect is paramount.  Making sure our children are courteous and kind, all the while understanding that not everyone in this world behaves the same, is challenging to say the least.  We’re doing our part to bring out the best in our children, even if it means we have to tell them they can’t hang out with certain people.

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