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Aretha Franklin sang her hit song about her man – “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)” Do you ever feel the same when your kids or spouse come home?

Over recent times I have discovered that there are non-negotiables for me in relationships, even in my family, and especially with children. After reading the book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend, I decided to write down my understanding of, and what I am looking for, in terms of respect.

Respect for me, is a part of love and care. It is a feeling of appreciative esteem, the state of being regarded with honor and shown consideration or appreciation. Is that happening in your family? Here are my observations and ideas regarding familial respect.

1. Making Fun Of Someone

I would like to introduce a two sentence guideline for “chucking off” or “making fun of” each other. You know I am ok with having someone muck around, but it is also a very sensitive issue. Once or twice is OK, but if it goes on and on the person will get sensitive and offended.

As a parent last week on the way to the supermarket some comments went way past that, and as a result I ended up feeling disrespected and devalued. If I observe it in myself, the chances are others in the family also have similar experiences.

Behavior needs to be the same as you would expect to be treated if the situation were reversed. Sometimes it is good to have fun, and it can happen at the expense of someone, I get that. However I suggest that if more than two sentences of deprecation happen, then that should be the end of it for at least an hour.

There are so many positive things to say and do and this is not behavior that lifts nor is it respectful.

2. Control

I don’t think any of us want to be controlled by another. I certainly don’t. Examples of implied control I observe are when a child threatens a parent with either pouting or tantrums, or is just outright demanding. A child needs to respect the parent, and that won’t happen unless there are clear boundaries drawn around what is acceptable and not.

Sometimes parents get overwhelmed and need support. To live together successfully we all need to consider how we can work together. If a child is given positive feedback for assisting or being polite, and if there is an agreed plan for handling bad attitude, then that child will be in a better position to learn. Let’s do our best to name and reduce controlling behavior.

3. Jealousy And Attention

With the lack of serious one on one listening today, children are more jealous of parental time, especially when the situation involves being a single parent, or step-parent. I suspect many a parent may have similarly missed out on being heard when young, (“Children should be seen and not heard”) so many parents are trying to compensate accordingly and make up for their own missing parental care.

You don’t have to be your child’s best friend. Nor sole confidant or prime support. For example: you are not your child’s valentine. (yes I know you feel bad if they don’t get a card on Valentine’s day, but I think Valentine’s Day for children is confusing enough without making it more complex by getting cards from parents).

The critical relationship of parent-child is easily confused with other noise, and you may find you are looking for a solution to relationships that really should be external. Isn’t it better to sit with their joy or sadness over their peer reactions?

How positive it is when parents both sit and talk or read together, compared to both working on computers etc. I could be wrong, of course, but I think that if both parent and child spend more time face-to-face both will find reduced jealousy and attention issues.

One last point, it is normal to at times want more of your spouse’s exclusive time. I would like you to imagine life in a way you have never experienced up to now. Imagine spending enough time with each member of the family that jealousy and attention seeking is not an issue. Look into each other’s eyes at least once a week and explain how important that person is to you!

4. Sensitivity

Some people are sensitive to everyday events, emotionally reactive. The question is, “how do we manage sensitivity”. I don’t have the answers, but I think that the solution lies somewhere in the ability to withdraw from situations where the sensitive person gets overwhelmed. But I don’t think that means necessarily leaving the party, or pulling out from and invitation, or having alone time. (though these strategies may work from time to time).

Pin ItI suspect that it is primarily about identifying and isolating the triggers, ensuring sufficient sleep is maintained, eating well and consistently, hugging and being held when under stress etc. So while I understand sensitivity, I also want to ask if the family can work towards preventative strategies rather than reactive ones.

Also there is a balance between smothering and turning away. We are all able to get what we are looking for if we respect each other. This is the sort of life I believe we all are seeking. Cooperative respect and support. R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me.

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Katherine Hurst
By Phil Cheney
Some people are blessed with a full and remarkable life, and have used up most of the proverbial cat’s lives doing so. Such a bright-eyed person is author and coach Phil Cheney. Phil has written 7 books - his latest work is about repairing the rift between science and spirituality. Phil is an Australian who lives with his wife and her daughter in Toronto, Canada. He has two beautiful daughters and three grandchildren in Australia. He has traveled to over forty countries, built a successful international software company, headed clinical projects in a major hospital, and diversely employed as a Director, IT analyst, soldier, consultant, marketer, producer, builder, policeman, musician and university lecturer.

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