The Weight of Respect


Parenting is much different now than when we were raising our children.  And, even when Hubby and I were doing that, we certainly weren’t experts, so I definitely can’t claim to be an authority on the way you should parent today.  But, there is a life lesson I learned when I was a young married, before having children, that I hope might be of value to those of you still raising yours.

When we were first married, I worked downtown for a large insurance company.  And, in a rare show of frugality for my 19 year old self, I carpooled to work.

Mary Lou was a small, slim single mom of two pre-teen boys who appreciated getting a rider to help pay for her gas.  It was a perfect arrangement because I was right on her way to work.  So, for the next couple years Mary Lou and I had the rides to and from work to learn about each other and share our lives.

And  by the time my rides with Mary Lou ended (I was expecting Gunny and quitting my job) I felt I had learned one very important parenting lesson:  Get your child’s respect before they get bigger than you!

Mary Lou’s ex-husband wasn’t very involved in her boys’ lives, so she was mostly on her own.  And even to my young eyes, I could see that she pretty much parented by spoiling them.

When I started riding with Mary Lou, her spoiled boys were just mildly irritating to her.  And, when they really got out of hand, she would just physically make them do what she had told them to do.

The problem is, that I could see a change in how her way of doing things was working as the boys got bigger.  By the time I quit riding with Mary Lou, the boys were both bigger than her, and by that time they were telling her what they would and wouldn’t do!  And, because they were then bigger and stronger than her, she didn’t have a way of making them do anything!

I didn’t keep in touch with Mary Lou, so I don’t know how the rest of her child raising years went, but I’m guessing it wasn’t fun to be mom to those two boys through their high school years.  But, I’m also hoping that they turned out fine once they got out on their own and the world taught them some of the lessons and boundaries their mom didn’t. 

When you teach your children the lessons they need to learn, like respect, you do it with love.  The world isn’t nearly as “loving” when it teaches your children the lessons you didn’t teach them! 

May God give you patience, wisdom and perseverance in your parenting.  I believe it is the hardest, but most important job, we will ever do.

8 Responses to The Weight of Respect

  1. chrissy says:

    Wow, right on! So true. As I enter the teenage years with my boy, I know that respect is so necessary. They push and push and as long as I don’t cave they stop pushing. Parenting is tough, especially if you want to raise good, upstanding people! Thanks so much for this post! I find it encouraging and a reminder of what I set out to do when deciding to raise children!

  2. Sandra says:

    Chrissy — I am so glad if anything I sai here reinforced your need to be a strong parent. I have always believed you have great instincts in your mothering, but, you’e right, it’s tough.

  3. Janet Ruth says:

    Thanks Sandra, and your words are so true. Sometimes I think it would be great to turn back the clock and do it all over again, but differently!

  4. Debbie says:

    Here, here!!
    Parenting is a lot different now, than when I raised mine too.

  5. Hilary says:

    So very true, Sandra. I’ve seen, noted and tried my best never to emulate the Mary Lou’s I’ve known. Parenting teens can be tricky business no matter how well you’ve managed up until then. Of course they’re in double digits now, so they know everything! 🙂

    My personal compass tells me that my ex and I have done alright – not only do our sons (18 and almost 22) show us a reasonable amount of respect (though the younger one wavers at times), but we have a decent portion of respect for them and their choices as well.

    You have wonderful advice, as always.

  6. Sandra says:

    Janet Ruth — I spent many years second guessing how I had raised my children, then I went to counseling! Since then, I’ve gotten much better at being supportive, but not trying to continue to “raise” them. It has made me and them both much happier.

    Debby — Yes, it is much different. And, as hard as it was in the 70’s an 80’s when we were raising ours, I think it must be even harder today. Parents today have all my admiration (and some sympathy too, with all the challenges in the world today)!

    Beth — See the last sentence above. You DO have all my admiration for raising your children in this complex world we now live in. But, I have observed your parenting from afar, and I feel confidet you are up to the task!

    Hilary — I found the age your boys are now the hardest. The transition for them into adulthood was hard for me, so I think I made it harder for them too. I’m sure you and your ex both feel very good to have arrived at this point with good, decent boys.

  7. C. Beth says:

    Thank you, Sandra. 🙂

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