How Do Your Children Treat You?

How Do Your Kids TREAT You? //
Sometimes when people long for the good old days, they’re remembering something that didn’t exist, fabricating entirely, or even just wistfully only recalling the good (but forgetting the accompanying bad).

But when it comes to the way children behave toward their parents and toward adults nowadays, there really is a significant differencebetween what the average mom puts up with today, and what would have been allowed 30, 60, 100 years ago. Whether it is sassiness, rudeness about a meal you just made for them, barging in on you while you’re going to the bathroom, or thoughtless comment about your post-partum belly, YOU, mama, are the one teaching them how to treat others.

And yes- YOU are an “other” in their life. Which means this:

Stay at home mom, YOU have to stick up for YOU.

  • Being sassy is not OK. You are their mom.
  • Being rude and ungrateful about a meal you’ve (or anyone else has) made is not OK. They are to be thankful for things done for them, and realize that having someone else cook for them is a gift. So yes, this means, you need to be the one to tell them they should say “thank you” for dinner, to you. It may seem counterintuitive, or like fishing for a compliment, but no– those are lies. You are teaching gratitude, kindness, and the value of work to your child.
  • Please don’t ever walk in on someone going to the bathroom. Unless your hair is on fire, you can wait a moment while I finish going potty, and then ask me your question when I come out.”
  • A thoughtless comment about your post-partum belly is not intentionally hurtful, but it IS hurtful, and could be extremely hurtful if your child doesn’t learn from you not to say that, and they go and say that to another woman. So tell them. Not in an ugly way, but tell them. Let them know, “I know you’re just saying that, and you’re right, mom’s tummy is smushy right now, but you are never to say that to a woman who has just had a baby. It is hard work having a baby, and the woman’s body goes through a lot of changes. It’s much better to talk about how cute the baby is than to ever say something like that to a new mama, OK?” (Obviously, a 2 year old isn’t going to understand this very well. But older kids can learn this.)
Teach children how to treat YOU in the same way you would respond if they said or did those things to another human being.This is your job. Day in day out, you can teach your child what is normal, and acceptable, and appropriate for polite and pleasant interactions with other human beings. And the first place to start is often right under your nose… in the way they act toward you.
Perhaps you grew up in an unhealthy home, or you struggle to assess these things in daily life. If you’re not sure, consider these questions:
  • Would you let them treat a woman you greatly admire and respect (don’t jump over that description– picture her!) the way you just let them treat you?
  • If you were a missionary and they sat down to eat at a poor neighbor‘s table and reacted to that food the way they just reacted to the homemade meal you made, what would you do?
  • Would you let them talk to Bono, your pastor, the President, the bank manager, the Pope, your husband’s boss, or Princess Kate the way they just spoke to you?
If you’re still not sure, hook up with other godly Christian families and watch. Observe norms about how they allow their children to interact with adults. Listen to how their children speak to them. Ask questions. Lean in and learn.I know it can feel weird, at first, to stick up for yourself. You can trick yourself into thinking that it is selfish or not right. But in actuality, by teaching them how to treat you, you are teaching them much more than simply that. You are teaching them basic concepts of respect of others, and how they are to respond to authorities in their lives (which they will have, their entire lives, no matter how rich or famous or brilliant they grow to be).You can do this!Teach your children how to treat you, and stick up for yourself. Teach your children respect and gratitude, and you’ll be doing yourself and them a world of good.

Image Credit: stockimages/

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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