Anyone that you respect you do so because you get “their world” in some kind of way – that makes sense logically or that touches you emotionally.
Kids are not always mindful of the things that we may be much more aware of, like our efforts, our intentions, our personal experiences, or even that we made a mistake or poor choice simply because we are human and we are learning, too.
Honoring their process
Like us, they only see what they see – yet they are far more likely to fixate only on their limited perspectives because they don’t have either the brain-development or life experience that creates emotional and social intelligence to see beyond their sense of urgency, or to process emotions that can open the door to this bigger, more considerate picture.
It’s harder for them to open to the idea that their sense of reality may be excluding more than they realize.
Because of this, we can’t rely on them to simply go along with what we say or ask of them – because when they don’t do those things, we need to then understand and respect that they are doing what they are doing because that is where they are in their own process, and their choices are the result of this.
It is up to us, then, to connect to WHY they are being the way they are being, honoring that process and meeting them there.
From this place, the tides can turn. This creates understanding, which fosters in them feelings of safety, which then allows them to move beyond their positional stances they’ll otherwise get entrenched more deeply in if try to push them out of it.
Creating understanding and receptivity
If they are unaware or not mindful of your efforts, your concerns, or your feelings, they can’t honor them. The crazy thing is that most parents assume that just because their kids have eyes and ears and speak the same language, they should somehow track these things, and even remember them. They forget that their brains, as well as their specific perceptual lenses that they have developed, are needed to be understood and connected with, first and foremost – start where they are.
You would not help someone understand how to drive from New York to California by telling them to “just be in California”.
While some kids can put themselves in your shoes, most have a harder time doing this, especially when younger, or when they are emotionally triggered. (Sound familiar? We all have done this quite a lot).
Therefore, we need to make it normal that we share our inner-world with them (in tactful ways) so that they understand what we feel, why we feel it, and what our efforts are. That, over time, helps them understand us, and makes possible the opportunity to honor us – which is important because it teaches them to be relational, develop empathy and compassion, and helps cultivate the intrinsic motivations to be consider others more deeply.
Even still, we can not rely on them to see us and validate us – we need to do that ourselves so we can have patience for their development and their learning process (and these things are what creates more mindfulness in the first place).
Respect yourself more than needing their respect
You wanting to be honored is about you. It’s your need or your desire usually based on the longing for connection or your longing for them to be capable of acknowledgment and responsibility. It’s your to work with, feeling the pain or fear in it, and getting first to a grounded place before trying to change how they are being. Not being honored hurts, yet this pain is here to make us alert to what needs to be addressed within us. This pain can be about sadness and suffering, or it can evolve to be about learning, and healing, teaching us about how to trust the process that is happening in us, in them, and between us both.
Them being able to honor you… is about their ability to see beyond their own experience to be mindful of yours – and this takes some time to develop as well as skillful communication when it’s not in place. It’s not a gimme.
It is not your child’s job to respect you. It’s their job to be themselves – and ideally evolve to a place where they are more capable of respect. If they are not in that place to act or be how we want just yet… we will create more issues and can damage trust and connection if we make it a “problem” rather than see it as an opportunity to explore with them there perceptions, thoughts and feelings.
Of course, it is important for children to get the reality they are living in and act in considerate and responsible ways – and the sooner, the easier on everyone. This helps them be more conscious, conscientious, and responsible, but… we need to meet them in their process when they are not, rather than fight them in their process (which is usually counter-productive).
For you to meet them in their process, you need to be present. For this you need to work with what ever is in the way of you being present. It is essential that you learn to deeply acknowledge, validate and respect yourself for your efforts that are being thanklessly received – and accept that there are simply things in the way of such sweet understanding at the moment. Not a problem, but an opportunity.
This is about breaking the co-dependency of feeling good only when they are validating you.
It’s about freeing yourself of the kinds of enmeshment that breed reactivity.
It is important to ask yourself, “How good of a model am I for acting respectfully?”
Are you being patient, humble and sincere, and taking responsibility for your feelings? Are you owning your assumptions, and able to use validation and curiosity to create deeper understanding and connection of others experiences?
Do you speak to connect, or do you speak to get what you want?
Teaching “how to respect others” requires you to be a model for being balanced enough with yourself so that you can be authentic and present with others.
It requires that you learn how to track what other’s experiences are, and to connect to those feelings, actions and perceptions with curiosity and compassion.
Learning to respect is a process, as it is tied to working through what is in the way of respect.