The reason I even started praying over this series, "What Should We Teach Our Children?" was because of a headline I read in our local paper. An historic cemetery, not too far from where I live had been vandalized on several occasions. The authorities had finally caught the culprits, and the ring leader (and oldest member of the group) was 13. There were 6 total kids involved, two under the age of 10. All of the criminal activity took place late into the night/early in the morning. I just sat there in disbelief for a moment... then in repulsion. There are so many questions that came up. But here is the where my mind finally landed. These kids have no respect for others. They have no respect for the family members who have loved ones buried in this cemetery. They have no respect for the caretakers of the cemetery. They have no respect for the people who visit or drive by the cemetery. The have no respect for the property of others. They have no respect for the authority of their parents. Which leads me to the point of this blog... Are we teaching respect to our children?
If you ever want to see an example of total lack of respect between parents and children, go hang out at your local Wal-Mart(or if you don't have one of those, whatever the discount, low budget, shopping chain is in your area). The first type of parent/child relationship that will jump out at you are the ones that have no respect for each other. It is sad to see the way some parents talk to their children, and in turn the way children talk to their parents. Another parent/child relationship you will see is the one where the child gets everything they want... sometimes just by asking, but most of the time by throwing a fit and demanding that the parent buy them something... to which the parent capitulates. You can also see children running all over the place, tearing up things, and the parents have no clue where they are... until they are ready to leave, then those are the parents yelling at their kids and fussing about why they had wondered off. Finally, let me add a parenting disclaimer... Wal Mart can bring out the worst in parents and children alike. And even the most respectful of relationships can have an off day while shopping in the busy, not so polite crowds. That is when you remember to ask for forgiveness from your children when you lose your cool at Wal-Mart... Yes, I speak from experience.
Ok, so now that you have a good visual image of children who are not taught respect, what should we as parents do to teach our children respect? Well, lets start with scripture...
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
We need to teach our children what God has to say to them. Children obey your parents. Honor your father and mother. Why? So that it may be well with you. They need to know that God tells them why... too often we just state the first part and don't tell them why. AND we need to tell them that God also speaks to the parents and tells us we are not to provoke our children to anger, but that we are to train them. That is our job, and we will have to answer for the job that we have done.
Respect is earned. The way we treat others determines what they feel and how they act toward us. Just like love, respect is taught more by actions than by words. Teaching respect starts at home, and then carries over into the world around us. Do your children see you treating others with respect? Do you treat your children with respect? Again, these are not questions I can answer for anyone but myself, but I hope I have given you something to consider.