What is due Respect from Your Teenager?

While disrespect from a teenager can be demeaning and confusing to parents, it actually brings more harm to the child by tearing at the very fabric of their future. It may be rooted in an authority figure showing disrespect to the child. Or, the child could be imitating the disrespect they see exhibited by their peers or other family members – including their parents.

I’d never say that you can force your child to respect you. But treating someone respectfully is altogether different. It is a controllable choice regardless of one’s opinion of that person. In other words, I may not agree with someone who holds a high office, or has an idea that I don’t like, but I can still treat them respectfully. Yes, it is easier and better for your teen to treat you respectfully if they actually feel respect for you. But, in fact, showing respect should have nothing to do with how they feel about you at the moment.

Often, disrespect flows from a demanding attitude for the parents’ time, money, privacy, feelings or property, and it usually starts out in insignificant ways. But even small expressions of disrespect are never acceptable. If a parent doesn’t intervene when the issues are small, disrespect can become part of your child’s permanent mindset, with behavior that gets worse over time.

Why is respect so important? It’s because respect is the cornerstone for discipline and relationships in the home. All else fails or gets short-circuited in teaching a child about maturity and responsibility when they don’t understand the concept of respect. When parents require respectful behavior, it helps the teen to be more respectful of others, and that’s a cornerstone for success in his/her life.

The longer a parent waits to address disrespect in their teenager, the more entrenched the problem becomes. If your teen is disrespectful to you, one good place to begin is to communicate that it is time for things in your home to change; “Honey, I love you – nothing you do or don’t do will ever take away my love for you– but we’re not going to live like this anymore.” Tell your teenager that even if they don’t have feelings of respect for you personally, or even when they are mad at you, they will still treat you with all due respect in the way they act, speak, and engage with you and your possessions.

Respect is a pivotal expectation in your home, so make it clear to your children that you are serious about it by backing up your words with stiff consequences for any form of disrespect. Then, be sure to follow through on those consequences, since they will undoubtedly be tested.

Written by Lisa Smith