How To Teach Your Child Respect – In This Political Climate

So here's the thing— Joanne Kraft isn't an ordinary southern girl.  Joanne is a California transplant to the hills of Tennessee, and she's got a powerful message for all parents out there — you can turn a "mean mom's" parenting into amazing children.  She knows.  She's got four kids of her own.  She writes and speaks around the country and I'm thrilled to have my dear friend  join the "Peace For A Lifetime" Community today!  


Like the rest of the free world, I’m disgusted by what’s happening. Our political climate is like watching a bunch of toddlers without naps.  


I’ve turned off the TV. Stopped going on Facebook and pretty much anything that allows me to see or hear this insanity.


We’ve lost the art of conversation and respect for other people’s views.


We’re just not willing to listen anymore.


How disrespectful is that?


Faith…teaches us not merely to tolerate one another, but to respect one another–to show regard to different views and the courtesy to listen. –George W. Bush, Inaugural Address 2001


Teaching Your Child To Listen


 “My daughter just doesn’t respect me. What can I do? She shouts at me and doesn’t listen to a word I say.”


This is the question I get most. Parents want to know how to instill respect in their children—especially when having a conversation.


Let me ask you this, it’s a question that will answer alot…


How do you model conversation with someone who believes differently than you do?


How do you act when your husband and you disagree? How do you talk about him when he’s not around? What about your mother-in-law? How do you talk about her? How do you act when you don’t get your way?


It matters.


Toddlers who throw tantrums become adults who do the same if we don’t teach them another way.


Kids want to be heard. They want to know their thoughts and ideas matter.


Adults do, too.


The problem is, when you’re raising kids there can only be one government and that government is called Mom and Dad.


It’s actually more like a benevolent dictatorship.


How Our Kids Talk Around The Dinner Table


I believe the best parents raise kids into adults who use logic and respect to share their beliefs and opinions and then LISTEN to ours.


When our kids were all little and around our kitchen table at night, they shared in the conversation with thoughts and ideas and stories that didn’t always make sense to us.


Still, we listened.


As they grew older, their ideas got a little kooky sometimes. (Teenagers, remember?) So, we’d engage with logic and truth. We’d ask them follow up questions, “Who told you that? Why do you believe that source? Do you know anyone else who had this experience?”


That sort of thing.



Respecting another person is simply admitting that God is big enough to love him or her just as much as he loves me. –Stephen Arterburn


There is much freedom of thought in our home and if anything, we taught them to be strong in what they believed. To have an answer that made sense and was factual was encouraged. If they spouted off with rhetoric we held them accountable and asked them to think critically about what they just said. Critical thinking is lacking in so many parenting classes these days. .


Parents walk a fine line between teaching respect and response.  We teach a child to respect the higher office of “parent” and instruct them to respond in a way that will be heard.


I make sure my kids understand their words carry a whole lot more weight if they are respectful with their delivery.




Because tantrums don’t work.


Name calling doesn’t work.


Shouting down Mom and Dad will never persuade us.




Here’s a few things you can do to build teach your child the art of respectful conversation:


Teach them to use their words.  Speaking just to shout or cry is not helpful. Sharing feelings is important, so start there.


Teach your child to listen. Stand or sit eye to eye with your child and take turns talking and listening, especially listening.


Acknowledge their feelings/words. “I think I heard you say that you’re not ready for a nap.” Or, “What you’re telling me is that you’re frustrated with your curfew and want to stay out later.” It’s important a child knows they’ve been heard.


It’s not personal. When their words do not persuade you to change your mind, make sure you remind them it’s not personal. I’d say something like, “You just explained yourself perfectly. I understand a lot better now why you want a later curfew. I really do, but I also have something you don’t yet have—adult perspective. I can see a bigger picture than just the curfew. I know you may not understand why I’m still not persuaded—but know this, I appreciate how you shared your heart with me and I love you very, very much.”



Respect is a character trait for success.


Why is respect so important?


Because, how my children treat me is how they’ll treat their teachers, future employers and eventually their spouses.


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My kids are taught to respect all positions of authority but most importantly all people, period. There’s a difference between respecting a person and respecting their office or position.


I teach this because I was taught this by my own parents.


My Lesson In Respect Began In High School


My sophomore year in high school I had an algebra teacher who grabbed me by my jacket and sat me down in my chair.


A total jerk, right?


Okay, I may have been getting a D in the class and I may have been a bit chatty–my memory is a bit cloudy…


My three-tours-in-Viet-Nam-USMC-father called said teacher and gave him the “what for” and I silently listened from the family room.


Thinking to myself, Woohoo! Dad’s on my side!


When he got off the phone I overheard him tell my mom how much he didn’t respect the guy. Then he called for me, “Joanne!”


I almost skipped into the kitchen.


“I just spoke with your teacher. He won’t help you sit in your chair anymore. And, you’re on restriction for two weeks until we see your grade is up in his class.”


“What!? But Dad, I thought I heard you just tell Mom you didn’t like him?”


“I may not like him but he’s your teacher and from what he just shared with me, you’ve not been the best student in his class and your grade reflects that.”


The position my teacher held was to be respected. While I never respected my teacher personally, I was taught I could tolerate a lot when I didn’t like someone–even where algebra was concerned.


Teach your child to respect a position if they can’t respect a person. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1Peter 2:17


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This is how my kids have been able to have conversations and even friendships with people from China, India, Russia, Australia, Africa, and not just other cultures but other belief systems; agnostics, Buddhists, atheists, Hindus and more.


I have to constantly remind myself my kids are watching. What I model is what I’ll see. Instead of blocking bridges or shouting down someone who might think completely opposite of how I think and believe, I’m teaching my kids to engage in conversation and respect ALL people.


It’s this process where they’ll learn to love them, too.


Scriptures  About Respecting Others


Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10


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Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4


“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12


Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9


A Little About Joanne

Joanne Kraft is a mom of four and the author of  The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids and Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. She’s been a repeat guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, Thriving Family, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, once lifelong Californians, moved their family to Tennessee. They’ve happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits.


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