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Episode 53

How to raise
respectful children

October 31, 2022

[Kyle]: In today's podcast we're going to discuss disrespectful children. What does it mean to have respect in a family? I hope you enjoy the listen today.

[Kyle]: Hello, and welcome to episode 53 of The Art of Raising Humans. I’m Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today we want to discuss what it means to be a respectful kid. I know so many parents that you and I talk to, Sara, a big trigger for them is disrespect.

[Sara]: Yeah, definitely.

[Kyle]: You know, a lot of them will be like “oh, my kid's been so disrespectful, I can't--” and a lot of times they'll present it that way and many times, I’m kind of left a little confused about what they mean by disrespectful, because I’ll hear a parent say that, but many of them will give a hundred different examples and you know, some of the same, some overlap, some are really different. So, I think it's important, what I want to do in this podcast today is-- We're passionate about raising respectful kids as well, right?

[Sara]: Right. I think it's important for human relationships.

[Kyle]: I think it's important for society, yeah.

[Sara]: Even between you and I, between our friends. You know, obviously, I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who was being “disrespectful to me” or speaking to me in a tone or you know, that would be a huge turn-off to like “no thanks, I don't need your friendship” and so, obviously, we want success for our children. We want that, we want them to know how to be respected.

[Kyle]: Yes. Well, I think there is-- You are so proud as a parent when you see your kid being respectful, you know? Not only to adults but to other kids and to themselves and that's why I thought it'd be good to dive into this, to first kind of define what it-- What lots of times, what people are saying by disrespectful and then, what we're saying when we want to raise a respectful kid, okay?

[Kyle]: But before we get into that, I want to make sure our listeners, you know, we really love feedback from everybody who's listening, we love comments. I know we've run into a lot of people lately who have told us they've listened to the podcast and enjoyed it. So, we really appreciate you sharing the podcast, you know? You can find us on Facebook, on Instagram. I know we have a TikTok thing going on now. On LinkedIn, all those different places you can find The Art of Raising Humans and I’d appreciate you just sharing this info to other parents, so they can also be equipped. They always talk about how parenting didn't come with a manual, well, we're trying to create one a little bit, an audio manual. Maybe to like, really help, because I wish we would have had this when we were first starting out and so, we want to give this to every new parent, every parent with teenagers, every-- You know, all the parents to be able to be more fully informed and empowered and equipped to be the parents they want to be. So, if you rate us, we would love for you to give us five stars and comment on it and share it and all that fun stuff, and you can go to our website and you can find all our other resources there. We've got great videos and all that kind of stuff.

[Kyle]: So, let's dive into this, Sara. So, when I say-- When you hear someone say “the kid is being disrespectful”, what do you think that typically means?

[Sara]: The first thing that comes to mind is tone, you know, when they speak to you and they have that edge in their voice or that tone. Sarcasm, mocking or they just blowing you off, don't care what you're saying, those kinds of things are the first things-- Especially in the teenage years, but even younger kids, but especially in those teen years where they're just rolling their eyes, those kinds of behaviors. Not truly listening or not really connecting, they're just “ugh”.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, you're saying it could be less what they're saying or what they're doing and more the tone in their voice. Can be kind of a condescending, kind of a mocking, all that kind of stuff, that's pretty disrespectful-- I also think of-- I know this is real common, especially in the teen years is, they'll say the kid was talking back.

[Sara]: Oh, definitely.

[Kyle]: And every time I hear that, I understand what the parent is saying, because of course, I heard that too as a kid, like “don't talk back to me”. What always kind of confused me even as a kid was like, isn't that a conversation?

[Sara]: Yeah, that’s true.

[Kyle]: Like a conversation is you talking and I talk and I really think what parents last times are saying is they do want it to be a monologue, we want to just be heard. I’m saying this “do not talk back,” just recognize--

[Sara]: Yeah, no response other than “yes sir” or a nod of the head and immediately go and do what I’ve said. Yeah, but we don't want them to challenge. That if they have a challenge or something they're saying back to us, they're-- And I think it is confusing against kids, because sometimes your parents are open to you saying something back to them or questioning “well, I thought this” or “I did this before, but now I can--” and other times we're already on edge and it's “don't talk back!”.

[Sara]: And it feels that, it feels like “you're just challenging me, you're not listening”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, I’ll see that confusion in teenagers I’m helping at the counseling office is those continues to be equally confused, because they're like “I was trying to have-- You said this, I disagreed with it”, but then like “no, I just need to accept everything you're saying”. I think another real popular one is rolling eyes, you know? A teenager rolling their eyes and even some kids are starting as young as first or second and the parents are like, “they already think they're a teenager because they're rolling their eyes”, you know? And that definitely is a trigger most, people do not like that.

[Sara]: Yeah, and in that rolling eyes, it could also just be those facial expressions that are dismissive or “ugh, parents”, you know?

[Kyle]: I think also ignoring what someone's saying, you know? Acting like they aren't listening. So, I think a lot of parents especially in those elementary years, they keep saying the kid's name and the kid just keeps ignoring what they're saying and the parent will say “I know they can hear me, you know? I am definitely loud enough and they're acting like they can't, that's so disrespectful”.

 [Kyle]: A kid yelling at them, right? That's pretty obvious. A kid insulting them, a kid cussing at them.

[Kyle]: That fall into that category?

[Sara]: Yeah, “I have this level in society and you should not speak to me that way. We have a tier system, right? And we believe that I’m of this age or I’m of this Rank and now you should behave this way to me and if you don't do that, that's disrespectful”.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, the kind of kid is not being-- So, I’m thinking like where I want to go with this, I think a lot of listeners are have many more other things that they would say this would also not respectful.

[Sara]: This is not an exhaustive list.

[Kyle]: Yes, I want to go through it all, but-- Because there is many, many. I am surprised sometimes what people think is disrespectful, but I think for the most part, if we sat with a bunch of parents, we could list off 20 or 30 things and we'd all kind of agree that those are kind of disrespectful behaviors, you know? And I think part of the-- If I want to extend the conversation is, I think if we saw those in marriage, we'd also see that as disrespect too, you know? So, I know right now we're talking about kids, but what we're talking about is disrespect across the board with friendships, with marriage, with kids and I think it's important to draw that distinction. Because in order to have a healthy conversation of what is respectful, it should look the same across all relationships, wouldn't you agree?

[Sara]: I would, yeah. I think sometimes we compartmentalize things and don’t realize that that's not actually, true things do affect other areas and so, you're saying that respect is one of those areas you can't “oh, I’m so respectful here, but then I’m not respectful here”.

[Sara]: Or “that person's not respectful there”, those things do affect each other. There's relationships there and we need to look at respect across the board, how we are respectful in all areas and relationships in life.

[Kyle]: Yeah, because then that leads me to the question, can you only be disrespectful to adults?

[Kyle]: Like, that's not true, right?

[Kyle]: I mean-- But I’m saying like in a lot of these conversations, that's what is being spoken.

[Sara]: That's the focus.

[Kyle]: Is the kid is being disrespectful and as a kid. Excuse me. You should be able to be respectful to adults, but in actuality, respectful communication is to any relationship, you know? And I know what they're hinting at there is this level of authority, right? That they're talking about, that there should be a-- Do you think it's a different level of respect for people in authority?

[Sara]: I think maybe it can look a little different, but I would say no. I would say if you're truly a respectful person and we'll get into what that really looks like, I don't necessarily think there'd be really large differences. It could look slightly different. Me being respectful to somebody my own if I’m 13, respectful to another 13 year old would look a little different than respectful to a 40 year old, but not in a huge way.

[Kyle]: Because that was my question. I’m thinking when you're talking about your kids and listeners, I’m just trying to evoke some thought on this because I want to expand it, is can you-- Can a kid be disrespectful to kids younger than them? Right? I mean. So, can a 13-year-old be disrespectful to a 6-year-old?

[Sara]: I would say definitely.

[Kyle]: I think so too, but I’m saying it changes his conversation, right? Like a 13 year old talking back to a 6-year-old ,a 13 year old rolling their eyes to a 6-year-old, is that still disrespectful? What does that look like? Does it take a differen--?

[Sara]: We don't rank it the same. As a society we don't rank it the same, but you are being disrespectful.

[Kyle]: And then here's the big question, can parents be disrespectful to their kids?

[Sara]: Yeah. Oh, I would say I think definitely, I think definitely kids can be disrespectful-- Parents can be disrespectful to their children. I don't think we all often give that much thought, but I think it's really powerful when we do and I know we're going to get into that.

[Kyle]: Well, even I-- You know, there's an author named C.S Lewis and C.S Lewis, I’m not quoting this exactly, but he talks about observing-- He never had kids of his own, but he would be observing parents with kids and he made the comment that, the way he saw the parents treating the kids when they were upset or when they were, you know, displeased with the kid and he's like “if this was any other relationship, that kid would leave that relationship, but the kid can't”, you know? But he's like “if I saw two adults treat each other this way or I saw like-- That person would leave”, you know? And so, I’m asking this question because I think you can only come to the answer when you see respect-- You need to have expectations on every relationship being respectful.

[Sara]: It would be an interesting thought, put yourself in your kids shoes with you, would you stay? Would you stay with how you know you treat your child, you know, in different moments? I’m sure everyone has their great moments, but just-- It does cause pause. You know, you reflect back on “I remember I talked to them that way, I remember-- Would I stay in that relationship? How would I want to be treated in that?”.

[Kyle]: Well, I have to pause all the time, that there's ways in which I might feel okay talking to our kids and ways I don't feel like I could talk to you that way. Because I don't think you'd put up with it.

[Sara]: Your friends would definitely-- You know, if you think “my mom wouldn't want that, my friends wouldn't want that, my--”, you know, if you go through all the people in your life, “but somehow my children--" How is it different? How--?

[Kyle]: Can I expand it even further, Sara? I know I didn't put this in the notes, but this comes up a lot when I’m talking to adults about this. Think like 67 years ago in our culture, in America, when it came to marriage, you know? That there's ways in which I could speak to you or say things to you. I could demand that you not talk back to me, I could say things to you like people sometimes do their own kids in our marriage and it would be seen as totally acceptable, you know?

[Sara]: I don't know if people have seen this, but their actual news, you can get pictures and images of actual news clippings, magazine clippings of how to manage your wife, how to-- You were allowed to slap or I think even spank your wife if she wasn't behaving, if she wasn't-- And nowadays, that “ugh, it would be so disrespectful”, right? And then so, it's interesting. It is an interesting thing that, you know, 60 years ago we could speak to-- Men could speak to women this way and that was okay and so, pause how am I speaking to my children, what I want to be spoken to that way.

[Kyle]: I’m thinking like we could, you know, me and some other men could have been in a locker room 70 years ago at a golf club or something, to be like “man, my wife talked back to me the other day” or “she rolled her eyes at me” or “she didn't agree with me and said ‘no’ to me”, right? I mean, even that would have been disrespectful, you just saying “no” and so, I’m-- What I’ve noticed, I’m just-- I’m not an expert in this area, but I’m thinking-- What I think changed over those years is eventually women were able to go into the workforce and able to take care of themselves financially, you know? They were able to go get an education in college and able to get a degree and you saw the value in women increase. So, now you weren't dependent on me, you could go do your own thing and I’m so happy about that, I’m glad that our daughters can someday do that, you know?

[Sara]: Yeah, and there's lots of people groups that have had similar or worse stories to that, where if-- We when we raised their value, all of a sudden how we're speaking to them changes.

[Kyle]: So, then that-- So, I wonder if that has something to do with respect, right? Is as--

[Sara]: Interesting

[Kyle]: As your value was raised, then it changed how I would communicate to you, because no longer I couldn't devalue you anymore, you know? You were more valuable to me. So, what I see happening, I know a lot of times this comes up in session with parents, it's like “well, my parents talked to me this way” or like “this is what's wrong with society is, you know, kids being able to talk back, kids able to say ‘no’” and I’d say “I don't know if that's true. I think its kids understanding their value, its parents understanding that their kids aren't just commodities, they're not just pets in the house, right? They're really humans that we're trying to raise to be better humans”.

[Sara]: And there's so many ways we value our children so much. We would lay down our lives for our children, right? But then there's this other area we think “oh, maybe here's an area of growth”, maybe we do need to pause and think “how am I-- How do I justify my communication or my facial expressions or the looks I give my kids? Is that respectful? Would that be okay in other relationships?”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah. Why can't my kids say “no” to me?” And is that a good thing for them to do? You know, do I want my kid to always say “yes” to me?

[Sara]: Yeah, do we want our children--? And I think everyone would say “no! no!”. But do we want our children to always say “yes” to authority? There are lots of times we all can go through where it wouldn't be okay. Your children, you want your children to be able to think “when do I need to say ‘no’? When do I actually need to push back to authority?”. Because authority doesn't get it all right, we can look. There's so many examples in history, countless, there's times-- I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of kids who had been abused or you know, been in situations and they were often obeying the authority figure and so, I definitely want my children to know when to say “no” and when to say “yes” and to know it's okay to say “no”, it's okay to push back and challenge the authorities in your life and I definitely want them to be adults who can do that.

[Sara]: Definitely. They're going to go into the workplace, they're going to go into all kinds of areas in life, a friendship, a relationship, a dating relationship or something. I want them to be able to say “no”, I want them to be in tune with themselves of what's a “yes” and what's a “no”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah, such a big deal. So, let's shift it. So, we've kind of like define disrespect and kind of gone to a lot of different areas with that, let's go into, what does it mean when we say we want a kid that is respectful?

[Sara]: Because we definitely don't want kids who are just eye rolling and healthy communication doesn't also mean “no! I’m not do--”, right? Okay. So, okay, if we say “it's okay to push back”, it's okay for them, it's going to look different than maybe how I was as a kid perhaps in relationships. What is that going to look like in a healthy way? What does respect look like between us? Between me and my child?

[Kyle]: To you as a kid saying “yes, sir” or “no, sir” all the time.

[Sara]: I think that--

[Kyle]: Or “yes, ma’am” or “no, ma’am”. Does that define respect? Is it that simple?

[Sara]: Yeah. You know, I think I see that and I think in different parts of-- We're in the United States, so different parts of the U.S, that's a bigger deal in other parts. Where I was raised “yes, sir”; “no, sir” wasn't so much, but I hear it a lot more in the South and other regions and I think for me, I think it goes back to the heart. I’ve seen kids go “yes, ma'am. Yes, sir”, because they know that's what they're supposed to do, but if you examine, if you ask them really how they felt, it might not line up, but it could.

[Sara]: It could, it could be a very natural way of communication and that's how we all communicate and it is respectful. But I think just that outward behavior, does not always mean they actually respect you, they're just doing what they know they have to do to stay out of trouble.

[Kyle]: So, what I hear you saying is you're going before the discussion. A lot of people who listen to our podcast, will know we're an inward in type of people. We're inward in-- What am I--? What did I just say? I’m glad you're facing “that we're inward in? Oh my gosh! No, we're inward out type of people”. So, instead of outward in, inward out. So, I think a lot of that push on I want my kid to say “yes, sir” or “no, sir,” I want my kid to nod and say “I got it” and do exactly what I’m saying when I say it. I want my kid to always say “yes”. So, all these kinds of--

[Sara]: Perfect eye contact.

[Kyle]: Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. That “look at me, look at me!”, all this kind of stuff, right? And so, those kind of things were all about an outward in approach, that my kid becomes respectful by doing these behaviors that then deem him respectful or him or her respectful, right? And what we know, is we just know that's not true. I know as a school counselor some of the kids I trusted the least, were the ones who said “yes, sir” or “no, sir” all the time. The ones who talked back were the ones that were actually easier to teach, because they were willing to have a conversation, you know? Whereas the other ones shut down and said “I will just do and be whatever you think I should do and be while you watch me”.

[Sara]: “I know how to behave, regard-- And you have no idea what's going on in my heart, in my mind”.

[Sara]: “But I know these outward behaviors that you, so to speak, want and I will do those”. But you don't know if you have that child or you've lost that child.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, you keep coming back to this matter of the heart, it's about having a heart that is respectful. What does that mean to have a respectful heart? I mean, like-- Because I know we are passionate about that, but I’m trying to get it for the listeners, how we would see that and know that that's being cultivated within the kid.

[Sara]: I would say that that's a big conversation, but I think it's honestly, if the child feels safe, feels loved, feels connected to you, then-- Because that feeling of respect, that comes over time, that comes from a relationship. The people I respect are people that I have relationship with I trust and I trust how they're going to treat me and interact with me. So, I think for-- I think some of that, the weight of that is on the adult, to be that-- Show up in the child's life in a way where the child can respect you, if you're are worthy of respect and I think the child can-- We can cultivate things in our children, confidence and things in our children that help them be respectful, but I do think we need to own our part in that. If I treat someone badly and they'll be like “respect me!”, that’s not going to work. If I treat you badly, you're not just going to respect me because I want you to.

[Kyle]: Okay. So, a couple key ideas you kind of brought to mind was, one, you're saying we can't demand respect, right? I mean, you can.

[Sara]: We can.

[Kyle]: We can't try, but I mean, it really-- I don't know if you're actually gonna get real respect, right?

[Sara]: I think it's like trust. I’m gonna jump in and I know I’m kind of cutting you off, but I think it's like trust. I can say “trust me! Trust me! Trust me!”, but then at every turn if I’m betraying you, even if you wanted to trust me, you couldn't, you know? There'd be always this thing in your head “yeah, but every time I do, you fail”. So, same with respect, I could want to respect you, but if at every turn you're not a person to respect, then I can't just conjure that up.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, then that that next step is “I must first respect myself and then invite you into that respectful relationship”. When you agree to like, “respect always starts with me”, you know? So, the picture I’ve shared this before, I don't think I’ve done this on the podcast, but I like that picture of if you took a junky car and you had a junky car out in the field and you saw that junky car, which we've driven through Kansas and we see that sometimes, it'll be like some junky car out in the field, you’d be like “that's trash, why don't they pick up that trash?”. But if they had a fence around that car, you might think “oh, I bet they're salvaging that for parts”, you know? So, it raises its value a little bit because you have something called boundaries, there's boundaries around it. But if you had that car in a nice house, in a nice garage, you’d think “I bet they're going to restore that and it's probably a classic”, you know? And so, there is this connection of value, connection of boundaries and those two together seem to create respect, you know?

[Kyle]: And I think that's kind of what parents are hinting at a little bit, when they are asking the kid not to “talk back to them” or roll their eyes at them, they're trying to set some boundaries. But what we're asking the parent to do is set boundaries on themselves first, then invite the kid into that. So, I think a lot of our conversations about respectful communication with the kids have been “I am going to ask you to talk to me the way I’m talking to you”.

[Sara]: Yeah. First, I am a respectful person and then I ask people to be respectful to me.

[Kyle]: Yeah, or I could. First, I respect myself and that then creates me into a respectful person, right? So, first--

[Sara]: Yeah, I meant-- In respectful person I meant “I respect myself and from that place, I can then respect other people and be a respectful person in all the ways”.

[Kyle]: Yeah. I worked with a lot of teachers throughout the years and the ones I saw had the most “respectful classes”, were really respectful teachers. They're teachers that respected the other teachers, they didn't-- You know, they just in general treated people with respect and anytime a kid was disrespectful to them, they didn't talk a lot about that disrespect, they just ask the kid “when have I treated you this way? I have not done that. I’ve treated you this way and I would like you to treat me back that way” and almost 100% of the time, the kid would be like “yeah, that's true, you have” and the classes that were constantly struggling with disrespect, they were teachers that in the background would talk disrespectfully about those kids, would say negative things about them or would express thoughts that were just really gross sometimes about the kids and you'd be like “no wonder the kid is not respecting you, because the kid doesn't feel respected”.

[Kyle]: So, I love this kind of deeper level, this deeper conversation about respect where like, if I’m having a respect issue with my kid, I need to go back and say “do I respect myself?”.

[Sara]: What do you think that--? What does that mean to you to say “how do I respect myself”?

[Kyle]: The ability-- Just like all the stuff we said earlier, the ability to have these boundaries and be able to say “no” sometimes. Like, do I have boundaries on my time? Do I have boundaries on how I speak to other people? Like do I--?

[Sara]: Do I have boundaries on how I speak to myself?

[Kyle]: Yes, that's true. Yeah, do I beat up myself? Do I talk and--? Do I insult myself? Do I say--? Am I doing to myself the very thing I’m asking other people not to do to me? And maybe that's why I’m so upset at other people doing it to me, because I’m already doing it to myself, you know?

[Kyle]: And so, to me it looks like, first, taking a self-inventory, “how am I respecting myself? Am I taking care of myself? And then, am I treating others the way I want them to treat me?” And once I take that inventory, then I can invite other people in my life to now treat me that way as well.

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah, and that's so powerful. I mean, we just need to kind of sit with that for a moment. It is really powerful to think “how do I respect and disrespect myself? I’m wanting to ask other people to respect me but, do I give myself that?”. And I think-- I mean, the answer is always going to be “yes” and “no”, right? There's all areas where we think “oh, yeah, I don't really respect myself there, I don't really have boundaries there in my life” and then-- And equally “when am I respectful? When do I speak to them in disrespectful ways?”

[Sara]: And I need to own that and I love the power of-- I mean, it would just-- It just turns everything around when people see you respecting yourself and when they see you respecting them or the people around them, it just invites them into something and its freedom, I think and it feels so good, it can be a path to get there if you're coming from a long way away. For your children, for you, a big shift it's not going to happen overnight, but it can happen and it's so powerful.

[Kyle]: So, what I’m hoping this podcast is doing today, is just anybody who's listening to it, is stopping for a second. If you're struggling a lot with getting triggered or the disrespect of your kids, is to just take today or this weekend to just take a self-inventory, “How are you talking to yourself? How are you treating yourself?”. That respect always begins with me. I first must know I how-- “Am I talking to myself in a way I want others to talk to me?” and then once I do that, then I can invite my kids into doing that as well and what's so beautiful about it, is not only do you change the conversation around respect and disrespect, is you also create this healthy sense of boundaries. Like I think one aspect of it that I think is really cool in our family, is everybody's voice matters, you know? Like your opinion is equal to my opinion, your desires are equal to my desires. Ellie, who's six, her desires are equal to-- We don't get to trump hers just because we're older than hers. Like everybody's voice is heard and respected, everybody's desires have an equal weight.

[Kyle]: Going back to the previous generations where the marriage was done differently, is back then it was the husband had greater weight than the woman's voice, right? Instead of like, no, everybody's voice matters, everybody's voice has value. So, I guess that's what-- Is what value are you giving to yourself and your desires and your wants and then how is that translating to other people in your life, specifically your kids or specifically your marriage?

[Kyle]: And so, I think in that as you take that self-assessment, then it switches from trying to demand people be respectful, instead it becomes a regular way of treating one another and it really can switch everything with the sibling. So, I know there's so much more to go in the depth here, but we don't want to belabor the point. I just really wanted to kind of define what in general culture is seen as disrespect and just kind of reframe it to what it looks like to actually raise a respectful kid. That it looks like a kid who knows who they are, who knows what they want, who's able to ask for that in a way that doesn't trump other people's wants and desires. That they know how to say “yes”, they know how to say “no” and they know how to balance all that stuff.

[Sara]: Yeah, they can trust they'll be heard.

[Kyle]: Yes, yeah, and they don't have to demand they be heard.

[Kyle]: So, I hope this was a helpful and enlightening conversation about this, I know it's a deep, deep topic. Would love to hear your feedback on even some of the ways that disrespect bothers you and ways in which you are raising respectful children as well. So, we just would ask you to share this, send it to other people who you know need some help and assistance and we really appreciate you taking the time to listen today.

[Sara]: Have a great day.

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