We can best teach respect by having a healthy perspective of the sacredness of God’s created human beings. If we practice showing respect, we can gradually remove shame and guilt in the atmosphere at home, in the car, and on the go. It starts with husband and wife.
“My husband is a great dad, but he’s a horrible husband.”
“My wife is a great mom, but she’s a lousy cook!”
Each one of those shame-filled statements come with a belief system attached. And the belief is this: Duty. Performance. You’re never enough. I value what you do for me more than I value your actual presence in my life.
By God’s design, even on the worst day, all people bear the image of God. Whether we see them through His eyes or not actually determines our capacity for giving respect. We have value in our existence and it’s not determined by strength and weakness. So, why do we focus on the gaps and inadequacies? Instead of seeing an opportunity for His grace to be inserted, we often place judgment and blame using words that accentuate the inadequacy and downplay the sufficiency of grace.
This is a serious issue when it comes to creating a respectful atmosphere in the home. If dad doesn’t show respect for mom then the children won’t either. Treating the children better than your mate erodes respect. The children may like us, but they won’t respect us.
Respect is something we give as a result of seeing each other through the lens of Christ’s image. After all, God did demonstrate His own love for us while we were still in sin (Romans 5:8). If we see each other through the complete work of Jesus Christ, we can at least respect each other’s journey and all that means until the fruit appears. We can show respect before it is deserved.
Try these suggestions to help you establish an atmosphere of respect in the home:
Rally around your spouse and brag on him or her in front of the kids.
Expect respect despite moods and feelings. Help children learn the difference between emotional reaction and the act of giving respect.
Say the words, “I respect you.”
Prepare through prayer to demonstrate the value of your spouse.
Everyday respect with words and actions reflect our God-given privilege to make choices. Even though someone makes a poor decision, that person is still worthy of respect in their God-given ability to choose.
Catch your kids showing respect and praise them.
Teach your kids to think wholly—not in compartmentalized roles.
“Probably one of the more subtle things that we inadvertently do as parents is use guilt and shame to control our children” (Michelle Anthony, Spiritual Parenting, p. 172). Children experience it directly from parents at times, but also indirectly when they watch our marital interactions with each other. One of the most powerful forms of modeling respect is in the marriage relationship and how we treat and speak to each other.