Tuesday, December 27, 2011

the 4th commandment

Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee  Exodus 20:12

This is the commandment with a promise that if children honor their parents, they will have long lives on earth.  It is the 4th commandment of the Catholic faith and the 5th commandment of the Hebrew bible.

Honor:  Put a value on something to consider it a prized possession.  In Hebrew, it means heavy.  It means someone is important and impressive.  Children honor parents by listening to advice and obeying their instruction.  Parents pass their wealth of experience to their child and expect them to listen and pay attention.  Honor parents by being grateful and refrain from mocking them or treating them scornfully. Sometimes it takes years for a child to really come to appreciate his parents.  It may be that for 18 or more years he was at home he did not respect their authority or even show love towards them.  Whether a child is still at home or has a family of his own, here are ways to show honor towards the ones that brought you into the world.
To honor means to recognize authority ~ considering the position a child is placed in ~ the parent above the child.  One must recognize their right to make rules and must follow them as this shows respect.  If the rules seem unfair, remember their rules are intended for your good because your parents care for you. Honoring one's parents, or respecting them, means that you will accept their correction when you fall short somehow.  When you honor your parents, you are showing them that you love them.  You honor something that you hold dear, that you value highly.  Certainly parents are worthy of that.

Communication is one of the best ways to show honor.  Talk to your parents!  You will find your parents can be really great friends if you let them.  Be honest. There's nothing harder on a parent than to know their child is not being truthful. Even if you feel you are doing something they would not approve of, tell them anyway. At least give them the honor enough to know about it.  Follow the rules.  They are for your good and your parents are setting them in the best way they know how.  Do your best to follow them.  If you have questions or concerns about them, voice it respectfully and get their feedback.  Parents deserve your honor.  They birthed you, raised you and cared for you.  
Respect:  Children are not born respectful ~ they are taught it ~  it is the beginning of a greater perspective on the world.  Young children are notorious for their self-centered view of the world.  Everything revolves around their needs and demands.  Such a view cannot be carried into adulthoold.  By giving respect to his parents, a child begins to see that others are worthy of consideration.

Parenting is truly on-the-job training that continues throughout the child's time at home.  The home scene can be a happy one when a child is respectful.  Parents should define rules and enforce them quickly, but fairly and without anger.  If children live without structure, they become self-absorbed, selfish and unhappy.  Set up rules and consequences so that no misunderstandings arise.  Be consistent with your expectations.  Teach by example because your actions speak louder than words.  Parents must be respectful to their children and to each other.  Screaming at each other does not promote respect.  Reward children for good behavior and give children your time.

Respect is the foundation of a meaningful and successful life; a child who learns to respect all he meets not only receives respect from others in kind, but learns to respect himself as well.

Showing your child respect is the best way to teach your child how to respect others.  Listen to your child by giving him your full attention and he will learn to listen to you, understanding how important this is in relationships.  Teach manners by using polite requests and responses.  The more you say "please" and "thank you" to your child, the more likely he will learn to use them with you and others.  Politeness goes a long way in life.  Agree to disagree.  Remember a child is a still a person with thoughts and opinions of their own which won't always mesh with yours.  Explain your decision so he will understand your reasoning and expect respectful responses.  Disagreeing with you does not equate to disobedience.   Squash your impulse to overreact.  When a situation arises between you and your child that requires firmness, keep in mind that you are supposed to be modeling correct behavior.  If he sees you lose your temper, he is more likely to react that way with you and others in future disagreements.  Define boundaries.  A child may act like he wants free reign, but ultimately will respect being given limits.  Let your child know what's expected.  Be firm and kind in your discipline when limits are pushed.  Praise, praise, praise!  So much is focused on what a child does wrong and how to correct it that the accomplishments are not celebrated enough.  When you see your child exhibit respectful behavior in the home and in public, make sure he knows just how proud you are of him.
How to earn the respect of others? ahh.... this is the million dollar question.  Everyone wants to be respected.  People want to be respected by their children, their peers and their bosses.  Earning respect is a matter of treating people with courtesy and compassion, as well as exhibiting certain character traits that allow people to trust what you say and believe in what you do.  Becoming a person whom people respect requires you to consciously take actions that are respectable and constantly work at eliminating actions that are not respectable.  Simply...follow the golden rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Speak to everyone you meet with compassion and a genuine concern for their needs and requests.  Never belittle anyone you disagree with, regardless of how you feel about them or what they have to say.  Avoid attracting attention to yourself or the good things you do.  People who do things for others out of a sense of generosity and dedication are respected much more than those who do the same things while making sure someone knows about it.  Align your actions with your words.  If you say you will be somewhere or do something, make every effort to do it.  If others see they can always trust what you say, then respect will be forthcoming.  Treat other people with dignity and a genuine concern for their well-being.  Avoid telling people what to do, especially in an unkind manner.  Treat those whom most people would consider your inferiors with generosity and kindness.  Set priorities and stick to them.  If your number one priority is spending time with your child, don't just say it's your number one priority, show it in what you do.  Follow this concept with all the important people in your life.  Many people find it difficult to respect someone who doesn't respect them back.  Aim not to judge people for what you perceive as their faults, instead, try to see the positive traits each person possesses.  In the workplace, make others respect you by working hard and being willing to put in long hours.  At home, earn respect by being honest, loyal, caring and a positive role model for your children.  Practice listening when others speak, not interrupting, being punctual and showing humility.  Have an opinion, but don't always feel the need to voice them.  Demonstrate respect by believing in yourself and not being critical when you make a mistake. 
Earn your child's respect.  Many parents believe that respect is a one-way street ~ it is only they who deserve it and their children who show it.  This cannot be the case if you truly desire to raise children who are respectful adults.  Even adults need to be humbled at times and realize that respect is something that must be earned rather than given upon demand.  Valuable lessons can be learned by showing a child respect.  You cannot expect a child to respect you if you first do not respect him.  Instead of telling him to get you your drink, ask him to get it for you.  There is a fine line between parenting and being rude.  Lead by example.  Parents try to teach their kids that it's wrong to make fun of others, yet they watch as their parents do it to people on the street.  Parents ground children if they raise their voices to them when they become angry, yet they lose their tempers with them for no reason quite often.  If parents want kids to respect them, they need to give them a reason to and show their children what being respectful means.  Use manners.  If children as for something, even if it's in the sweetest of voices, the first thing many people say is "I didn't hear the magic word."  Yet how many times have you asked your child for something without saying please?  How many times have they done something for you without hearing thank you?  If he sees you using your manners with him, he will respond in return.  Do something kind.  Earning your child's respect doesn't always have to deal with him directly.  If you lend a hand to a neighbor, volunteer your time, caregive for a family member, he will think the world of you. The more he thinks of you as a person, the more he will respect you as his parent. Spend quality time with your child.  Spending any kind of time and doing anything that lets him know that you love him will automatically gain you his respect.  If he believes for even a second that you love him enough to make time for him, his appreciation for you will grow 100 percent.
I am still a child, as I have one remaining parent to honor and respect and I will continue to do so as both as my parents taught me to.  I am also a parent, and feel confident, together with my better half, our actions have led an example as to how valuable these are in life.  It is impossible to force our children to honor and respect us, as they have a free will and choice to do so, but nothing makes a parent prouder than to know they did their best raising their offspring and are rewarded with the joy of being honored and respected. Passing on these values as they continue raising their own children is a blessing indeed.  xo