Friday, February 13, 2009

Blog Buddies: Respectful Parenting

Today's guest post is by Joanne Baum, PhD., “The Parenting Maven”. Dr. Baum is a therapist, educator, parenting coach, mediator, author, columnist and speaker for over thirty years and founder of Her fourth book, Got the Baby Where's the Manual?!? won the 2007 IPPY Gold Medal for Parenting.

Dr. Baum specializes in issues faced by couples, parents, families, and individuals. She is available as a parent coach in person, via phone or e-mail. Dr. Baum also works as a divorce coach, child specialist, and Child and Family Investigator for divorcing families. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work, and a Certified Alcoholism Counselor, Level III. She has a private practice in Evergreen, Colorado.

Respectful Parenting

We often hear adults complain that children are not "respectful enough." I would like to ask those people three questions:

  1. What does 'respect' mean to you?
  2. How does a child learn to be respectful?
  3. What is the child's definition of 'respect' and 'being respectful?'

The most important and powerful way we learn is by imitating the behavior we see repeated around us. The simple truth is that a child must be respected as an individual before that child can learn how to respect others. The key to remember here is that being respectful is not the same as being "obedient" "compliant" or doing something out of fear for what will happen if you don't.

Many people who are parents today were raised by "old-style parents" with an authoritarian/dictatorial approach including tendencies to demand things of children, punish when not obeyed, told "Because I said so" when asked, and called "disrespectful" when they questioned what a parent was doing - all of these methods are decidedly not respectful. Many parents today will need to be conscious of what they are doing as parents in order to not repeat some of the mistakes their parents made by repeating what was done in previous generations.

Enter Respectful Parenting. When you respect a child (preferably from birth on) that child will learn all about true respect. Being respectful will be second nature. Respect implies that a person likes the other person, has strong feelings for the person they are respecting, listens carefully, considers what the other person is saying, takes the person seriously, cares for the other person, and enjoys the other person - all that is included in the definition of respect and a respectful relationship.

If you agree with that definition then for a parent to become a respectful parent he or she will be using the ideas and strategies of Respectful Parenting(SM) and will be doing the following 10 steps on a regular basis with their child:

  1. Listen carefully to what your child is telling you
  2. See your child as a separate human being with his or her own needs and wants and desire to be respected and valued
  3. Be in awe of your child and in awe with your child
  4. Respond to your child's needs and wants in appropriate ways
  5. Take into account your child's input and seriously considering it before thinking, "Oh he's only ___ years/months old, I know better."
  6. Discuss alternatives with your child, weigh the options together, teach your child how to evaluate the possibilities, and decide together which option to take.
  7. Become a mutual learner with your child
  8. Set clear respectful limits, consequences, and boundaries for your child
  9. Treat mistakes as opportunities to learn together about how else a situation can be handled and you'll be avoiding shame based parenting ideas
  10. Have all family members take and enjoy time-outs - not as punishment, but simply as a way to cool down, think things through with less emotions, and re-join your family with the attitude of working things out together in a rational, caring and respectful way instead of being so emotionally charged that you can't think straight.

Benefits of Respectful Parenting

  • You get to enjoy your parenting experience instead of enduring it
  • You get to be an awe-full parent instead of an awful parent
  • You get to raise a child who respects him/herself and makes wise decisions
  • You get to heal any wounds left over from your own childhood
  • Your child leaves home with all the confidence and decision making skills needed for doing life successfully
Thanks for sharing Dr. Baum!

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