You tried to listen actively and express yourself assertively. But somehow, when it comes to your family members, especially your teenager, seemingly normal conversations could become very difficult very easily.
When they roll their eyes, you feel disrespected. Whether they say it with words or just give you that look, you could tell they think you are stupid, or hear them yelling, "I don't want to do it. I won't do it. You cannot make me do it!" You feel exasperated and can no longer control your tongue...
But stop! Don't get involved in a power struggle. Remember you are the parent.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)
What's hurting your relationships? Find out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T means to you.
Every time Lloyd walks past her desk in his smart business suit, Tracy thinks to herself Prima donna CEO. She ignores him, doesn't even acknowledge his presence.
Gerald looks with derision at a videotape of his wife's recent theatrical performance. Ridiculous to be doing this at her age, he thinks.
Missy leaves the house when her husband's friends are over. They're all such oafs, she thinks.
Their common ground? A lack of respect.
Respect isn't getting much respect these days. While we seek respect within our families, our social circles, our work environments, we can sure "dis" with the best of them! Disrespectful comments and attitudes toward politicians, bosses, spouses, grocery store clerks—you name it!—abound in our culture today.
Yet, respect for and from others—and ourselves—is essential to our ability to interact with people in healthy and productive ways. Truly satisfying relationships require that we acknowledge, accept and value others and ourselves, respecting who we are as men and women and as individuals.
Without respect, we lapse into power struggles within relationships. We lose morale, productivity and the ability to positively influence people in the workplace. We contribute to conflict in the world.
What's Getting in the Way of Respect?
So why do we so often find ourselves being disrespectful? Here are a few things that tend to get in the way:
• We think that to show respect means that we agree with a person or that we must cater to that person's whims. Not so. To respect means to acknowledge, accept and value, not necessarily to agree with or to indulge.
• We make assumptions and rush to judgment. What if, for example, someone witnessed you driving aggressively and concluded you were a "jerk." You may have been trying to get an injured child to the hospital, but to the other person, you will remain a jerk.
• We fear people with different thoughts, convictions and approaches. For some reason, we feel threatened by the differences. Why can't we just enjoy the differences in each other? How boring would the world be if we were all the same?
• We generalize. When we see "all men" or "all women" or all people from one ethnic group as the same, we forget that each person is unique.
• We insist that our way is THE RIGHT way, not just one way. This type of arrogance actually diminishes and narrows our life.
• We harden our hearts, stifling compassion and empathy. It's not that we need to disregard bad behavior or that we have to like every person and every action. But we show our respect—and our strength—by attempting to understand.
• We get too busy. Try investing time: listen to others, recognize their contributions, and speak constructively in ways that support and strengthen the people you love and work with. The return on the investment could be phenomenal!
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)
How could we respect others and ourselves? We could do it by suspending judgment and condemnation. When someone condemns us, we need not defend ourselves and return the favor by judging them. Instead, we accept them the way they are and give them the respect as an image bearer of God.
Respecting others and ourselves can enrich our lives like nothing else. When respect leads, curiosity follows and our world opens up. When self-respect points the way, we take care of ourselves better—physically and emotionally. We feel better about ourselves, and we can receive the gift of respect others offer to us.
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications