Friday, December 2, 2011

Mutual respect - a two way street

We hear a lot about the commandment to honor your father and mother.  These days it seems this is one that children frequently opt out of.  How does one go about teaching respect.  Probably by example.  Interesting blogger shares food for thought here about adult/adult relationships in families.  I am also reading a book on this subject and I've realized the same principles work both ways  - that is for the kids and for the parent.
A few highlights I found interesting follow:
Our children are their own people, they are not us. We have a right to worry about them, but we really have to try and trust them to know what they’re doing, and to make the choices that work for them. I think we will have much better relationships with our adult children if we trust them, and respect who they are, no matter how different or similar they are to us. it has always been one of my goals to respect my adult kids, and so far mine are easy to respect—-but even as responsible people, they are still very different from me, and once in a while I want to scream, “you did WHAT?????”, and then I remind myself again that they are not me. And their choices are different from mine and have a right to be.

BUT —-guess what??? That kind of respect is not a one way street, it is a two sided coin. If we are expected not to comment, or even flinch, at the fabulous new tattoo running up one arm, the fact that their children go to bed later than ours did, follow no routine, or have a nearly Hitlerian routine, that they get vaccinations, or don’t, that they have now become Buddhists instead of Episcopalian, want to join the circus, or go sky diving in their free time, bought a house they cant afford, or live in what we consider a hovel——whatever it is they’re doing that may shock you, or surprise you, if you are trying to adjust to it and be fair, and respect the choices they’ve made—–GUESS WHAT???? They owe you exactly the same respect about whatever it is you do. Or at least that’s how I see it, as a two way street, NOT a one way street that benefits only them.

...But what I do find is that sometimes adult kids forget that we have a right to be different and independent too. And I find that many adult kids are far more vocal about being critical of their parents.

I think what adult kids and parents need is tolerance of each other, compassion, understanding, respect, and a sense of humor about the things we don’t always like. But if our kids want us to respect them and their occasionally wonky choices (blue hair, sweetheart?? really???), then they have to respect ours as well. Life is an experiment. We really do need to be tolerant of each other. And NONE of us want to hear about what we’re doing wrong all the time. Even if it’s wrong for someone else, it may be right for us, no matter how strange it seems.

So I would like to cast a vote here for mutual respect and tolerance. I think if both parents and adult kids make an effort in that direction, we’ll all have a better time together, and a lot more fun. It will keep life surprising and interesting, and keep our minds open. They don’t want to be us—-and we don’t want to be them. And just as they have a right to be who they are, so do we. Someone said that being an adult is when you accept your parents for who they are. That would be very, very nice. And just as we need to salute our kids for their independence, and respect their freedom to be who they are, no matter how different from us———they need to do exactly the same for us!!! It’s a two way street, and a great exchange!!! 

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