The boys had some friends over this weekend. All night video game marathons and lots of ice cream were on the menu. House guests always get me evaluating the atmosphere of our home. A place usually inhabited by the same six people living life together day-in and day-out, suddenly joined by a few new faces. What do they feel in our home, what's their impression? There's no pressure to be any different than we usually are, of course, but I wonder if our interactions are similar to those they experience in their own home, or vastly different?
Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I knew I wanted to write today on the topic of respect. The respect that should be found operating in our families. In the busyness of today's families schedules, few of us take time to ponder what kind of culture we are creating in our family.
The truth is, whether you've given yours much thought, each family has a culture. By culture I mean the atmosphere of the home, the way it's members interact with one another on a daily level, the way a family views life and handles it's hurdles, the ideals that shape it's priorities and therefore it's actions.
A home's culture is never set in motion by the children, always the parents. Even in a home with a special needs child, or a child who seems to go off the rails and monopolizes the family's focus for a season, even then it's the parents and how they handle these children that create the culture and set the tone in the house.
The last few days, in my evaluation of my own family's culture, I was happy to say I saw how respect is a foundation we've built into our family. No, not some authoritarian, iron-fist that we as parents rule the children with, but mutual respect for one another. Johnnie and I both value this as a character trait so much that seemingly, without taking any intentional parenting-pledge, we've been consistently re-enforcing it with our kids.
It's a subject worth really thinking about - the fact that our own ideals and values pass to our children, sometimes with intent on our part, but often without thought. The age-old words about children following what we do not what we say has never been more true. It is the ideals we hold most true within ourselves that we seem to continually hammer into our offspring. And so, I saw that for us one of those ideals is respect.
Respect shows in how we talk to someone. It is also displayed in how we talk about someone. A home where we respect one another is a safe place. It's a place where people share and understand each other.
And even when they don't understand each other, even grossly disagree, the value of the person never changes, nor the rule of how we treat them.
Of course it's true that through their actions, a person can lose our admiration, but that doesn't mean they should be shown disrespect.
Teaching respect requires consistency. Sometimes in a home, because of busy circumstances, lack of convenience, or just apathy, the negative attitudes and disrespect between parent and children, or between siblings are allowed to continue. Addressing conflict and disrespect is necessary to build family unity as well as for building character into children.
Respect for others goes hand-in-hand with respect for self. “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” (Laurence Sterne).
I leave you with a question to ponder: What kind of culture exists in your family? Let's evaluate the good and take some steps towards phasing out those attitudes and actions that tear our families down instead of build them up.