Respect’s Investment

"They say that blood is thicker than water. Maybe that’s why we battle our own with more energy and gusto than we would ever expend on strangers."

– David Assael, Northern Exposure, Family Feud, 1991

Jenny here. I’ll admit it. I often treat total strangers with much more dignity and respect than I do my own loved ones. Before today, I never really stopped to wonder why. This statement helps me see what is really going on when I snap at my kids while gently correcting their friends.

Now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. We have much more invested in the behavior of our own children. When the neighbor’s kid leaves his plate at the table and rudely remarks that he didn’t eat because it was gross, we don’t take it quite so personally. We may correct them, but we’ll do it matter-of-factly (then laugh with our spouse at their incredulity). If our little angel did the same thing, you’d better believe they’d hear about it from us in a not so kind and gentle manner. Why is that? Because then it means something…about us.

We jump on them because they should know better! We have taught them good manners and when they choose not to use them, it’s like a slap in the face to all the hard work we’ve done. I’m here to tell you, rude manners and bad behavior should certainly be addressed. But the lessons will be learned even more effectively if we can just rise above the natural inclination to take things so personally. Instead, try pretending that this darling child in front of you is your nephew or neighbor. And show him what you value by modeling it yourself. Teach him to respect others by extending a little of it on your end of things. You’ll be amazed at how far that will take you.

-Jenny Runkel, Co-founder of ScreamFreeParenting

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