How Do We Love Our Kids While Teaching Them to be Respectful?

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Every child has a need for love and every parent has a need for respect. Create a loving environment and motivate your child to be respectful.

Does the Bible address this love-need in a child, and this respect-need in parents? Yes.

Parents need and want the respect that Scripture plainly says is their due: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) is one of many passages where children are clearly told to honor and respect their parents. And children need and want the love and sensitive understanding that Scripture teaches parents to give them. See Titus 2:4, Ephesians 6:4, and Colossians 3:21 for just a few examples of where parental responsibilities are mentioned or described.

As I have searched Scripture, I have found something that could serve well many parents, even revolutionize the parent-child relationship. But it’s one thing to have a theological theory; it’s another to make it work, especially in the daily crucible of child rearing. As every parent knows, from tots to teenagers children are not always respectful or honoring, and it is not always easy to be loving in the face of children who appear disrespectful. The obvious challenge then is: How do you show love to your preschooler, especially when he is having a meltdown right in the middle of the supermarket checkout line, leaving you to feel mortified and disrespected? Or how does a parent deal with a teenage daughter who yells, “You are the worst parent in the world” as she reacts with drama that could get her a role on Broadway?

While rearing three children, Sarah and I were there many times. I remember well what it is like to win a battle but realize I might be losing the war.

In my book, Love and Respect in the Family, I help every parent to avoid closing off the heart of their child. I do this by explaining how to create the most loving environment while at the same time motivating the child to be respectful.

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