The Importance of Mutual Respect Between Parents and Children
Parents and children always will have some level of conflict, but mutual respect helps minimize hurt feelings and animosity resulting from family tensions. Children should respect their parents authority, but parents should also respect their children's value and age-appropriate choices. When parents and children avoid harsh words, belittling comments and loose tempers, conflicts can often be resolved quickly and effectively.
Mutual respect encourages equality in the home. Even though parents know more because they have more life experiences to draw from, and they have legal authority in the home, they shouldn't use their elevated positions to dominate their children. Children have intrinsic value and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, without feeling as though their parents control every move they make. According to Lane Community College, mutual respect is the key to improving relationships between parents and children 1. Creating a system where parents and children work together to establish ground rules, promote healthy communication habits, encourage age-appropriate decisions and share household chores can lead to a happier home life. Parents might need to enforce the rules, but children respond to fair and consistent expectations.
A family that encourages mutual respect is likely to be a close family. According to Brigham Young University professor Larry Nelson, a parenting style that blends love, high expectations and respect for a child’s autonomy lasts for years, long after the child moves out of the home. Specifically, dads who promote mutual respect enjoy closer relationships with their children, and their children have higher levels of self-worth, according to the Psych Central website 3. Mutual respect shows a child that you respect his independence, personal interests and time. Most importantly, it teaches a child that you love him unconditionally and find value in his existence.
Healthy communication reinforces mutual respect between parents and children. The Empowering Parents website encourages parents to listen to their kids and strive to reconcile if their children feel mistreated. Parents can demonstrate respect by asking their kids to forgive them if they say something that's harsh, critical or unfair. According to the site, healthy communication creates mutual respect because it gives children the opportunity to see their parents as flawed human beings who make mistakes. Parents and children who ask for forgiveness, express honest emotions and show compassion create a respectful atmosphere.
Mutual respect leads to quick and effective conflict resolution. If a respectful parent says, "I'm disappointed with your actions, but I'd like to know what's bothering you," a child might soften, knowing that the parent truly cares. If a respectful child says, "I don't understand why I can't go to the party, but I trust your judgment," a parent might use the opportunity to share her concerns about the child's peers or questionable activities. Mutual respect means both parents and children get to express their feelings, and both are willing to listen to the other's point of view.
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