Raising Kids to be Kind and Respectful

March 6, 2012


“You’re ugly.  You’re weird, and I hate you.”


My niece had asked a high school  boy to go to a school dance with her, and this was his response.  I cringed as she told me in her typical, nonchalant, teenager tone.

Teenage Friendships by Louisa Stokes






In what world is that okay? 


I realize public school is a different world from homeschool, but come on!  


I’ve heard the “teenagers are teenagers” excuse, but where do we draw the line?    


Honestly...even if the girl were weird and ugly (which she most definitely IS NOT), who has taught this kid to think it is okay to say that? And, by the way, who is raising this kid?  Or IS anyone raising this kid?


Honestly, I believe that is the root of the answer.  It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to realize that the difference is parenting.  The difference is in how we raise our kids.




A Rough Start to Raising Kids  
Raising Xander



I’ll admit I don’t have it all together.  I know that I make a lot of parenting mistakes.  I had to determine a long time ago to let go of the mom-guilt I carried and start trusting God to cover my imperfections. 



Over the last ten years, I have watched my three children each grow and mature in their own unique ways.  They are not perfect, either; but, on the whole, I’ve been VERY satisfied with the quality of their characters.



Our oldest daughter had a rough start.  I didn’t really have it together as a person, let alone a mom.  She was intense and strong-willed, and she could be downright unruly.  She had little experience with adults outside of the family, and the few other adults she did spend time with never had anything good to say about her behavior.  It was painful for me as a mother.  It left me even more insecure, and I wanted to completely shut-out any outside contact with her.



Fortunately, we found a loving church, filled with compassionate people.  The first time we came through the doors, the people opened their arms and received us exactly as we were, without judgment or criticism.  They received us with love.

Because of that freedom from anger and judgment, I was free to let go and grow.  In the last 6 years, I have watched that child mature into a pretty capable, and generally kind 10-year-old girl (again, not without faults).  By watching our role models, we have learned some pretty useful parenting tips, which have helped bring this about.


Raising Kids with Respect


  1.  We pray for and with our kids.  (Notice this is number one on the list!) Almost daily, our kids see us pray, hear us pray, and/or are the recipients of many, many of our prayers.  In addition, we have asked a few adult friends to cover our kids in prayer, as well. 
  2. WE are committed to raising our kids together.  We realize that we are the adults.  We are the ones responsible for their futures, and we have decided to put them at the top of our priorities.  We model a healthy marriage, and we emphasize our commitment to raise the kids together.
  3. We are others-centered.  We constantly try to model love and compassion to others.  We realize that our kids are born self-centered, just as we were.  We realize that we continually have to put aside our natural tendency to be self-centered.  We focus on being God-centered, and the outpouring of the Spirit helps us to become others-centered.
  4. We discipline our kids.  Let’s get one thing straight.  Children NEED instruction.  They need to be taught to be responsible: to clean their rooms, to help with chores around the house.  I think these simple tasks are grossly neglected in exchange for sports and extracurricular events.  We tend to think that our kids will only succeed if we give them every opportunity, buy them every “in” product, and sign them up for every ball team we can find.  Then, we ignore the basic necessities.  Matt and I are choosing a different approach.  We involve our kids in VERY little. Yet, we make time to teach them to be responsible, and we set boundaries to discipline them as needed.
  5. We are involved.  We know what our kids are watching on television (in fact, we don’t even have cable!).  We know what websites our children visit on the internet (and, yes, we let them use it).  We know where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with.  I’ll admit, it is easy now, since our oldest is only ten, but we intend to be involved in teaching our children to incrementally receive more freedom from our watchful eyes.  We are starting now, by gradually releasing to each of them a little more responsibility, as they grow.
  6. We are available.  I stay at home.  I am always here.  However, I do not have to be physically present at all times to still be available to my kids.  I make sure that I am available to them, not just physically, but emotionally.  I try to talk to them and treat them with respect, and I make a point to let them know that I care about their feelings and opinions (sometimes we have to keep that in check with the two who happen to be VERY opinionated!). 


Above all things, I think these are the key to raising kids who will be responsible, respectful and kind.  Raising kids with love, respect and discipline is the best way to ensure they grow up to do the same!