I was reading the Sunday paper this past weekend. I ALWAYS read the advice columns. One of my favorites is Focus on the Family by James Dobson. This past weekend, he received a letter from a reader asking about why it is important to instill respect during the developmental years. I loved his response and want to share it with you:
Dr. Dobson: You place great emphasis on instilling respect during the developmental years. Why is that so important?
Respect is important for several specific reasons. First, the child's relationship with his parents provides the basis for his attitude toward every other form of authority he will encounter.
It becomes the cornerstone for his later outlook on school officials, law enforcement officers, future employers and the people with whom he will eventually live and work. Teachers, for example, can tell quickly when a boy or girl has been allowed to be defiant at home because those attitudes are brought into the classroom.
Again, relationships at home are the first and most important social encounters a youngster will have, and the problems experienced there often carry over into adult life.
Second, if you want your child to accept your values when she reaches her teen years, you must be worthy of her respect during her younger days.
When a child can successfully defy your authority during her first fifteen years, laughing in your face and flouting your leadership, she develops a natural contempt for everything you stand for.
"Stupid old mom and dad!" she thinks. "I've got them wound around my little finger. Sure they love me, but I think they're afraid of me."
A child may not utter these words, but she feels them each time she wins the confrontation.
Third, and related to the second, respect is critical to share faith. The child who disdains his mother and father is less likely to emulate them. If mom and dad are not worthy of respect, then neither are their morals, their country, or convictions.
Amen, Dr. Dobson!
(As posted in the Grand Rapids Press, September 3, 2006.)