The Nonchalantdad: Respect
My wife makes fun of me from time to time because of some of my 'stranger' habits in the raising of our kids. For one thing I talk to them often as if they were adults - like I say 'yes sir' and 'yes mam'. I don't consider it weird. She was teasing me the other day because I reminded her that when I take our oldest boy to school I park the car, walk him up and into the entrance hall to the school, stop and ask him to look at me, kiss him, speak to him briefly, and then hug him. I watch him as he disappears down the hallway - often he turns around a few times to wave at me. What's so odd about that. Yes, yes... I know, I probably won't be doing it when he's 11 or 12 - but he is 5 years old and it feels right at this juncture.
What brought all this about was a conversation I was having with my wife about the school. The other morning I had just dropped my son off and said goodbye when I walked outside of the building just in time to see a minivan pull up to the front where the buses stop. The minivan came to a stop, the side door seemed to open on its own and the 2 children in the back
climbed out while their mother (I assume) continued looking forward. The door shut and the kids walked up and into the school on their own. I don't know why, but I became irritated. I tell you I don't know because I can't prove to you that this woman doesn't love her kids any less than I love mine. In fact you'd have to be completely senseless, in my opinion, to not have any feelings for your child. So, I'm sure she loves her children.
What bothered me is the message she seemed to be sending her kids, either directly or indirectly. I think in parenting we tend, over time, to forget how and what our children must be seeing and learning. We expect them, by nature, to show us respect as adults. Yet, we forget that it might be just as important to respect them. I think, because many of us are so tired, we neglect how special and sensitive a time it is being so young. Never forget for a minute, though, that our kids are learning.... from us.
I had an acquaintance some weeks ago whose girlfriend was visiting him in the city he lived in. She was bringing with her the baby that they had together. I was surprised to hear that he wouldn't be meeting her and the child at the train station. She was not incompetent, nor was she incapable of handling her arrival at the station with a child. What bothered me was the fact that he did not think it important to, at least, greet his girlfriend, and especially his own child, at the station. His child is far to young to consciously realize that he did not pay his respects - or what I would consider respectful behaviour to another person. But, I would argue that somewhere along the line, an action like that will be the beginning of a negative repercussion.
Sure, maybe I am over-reacting. But, let's just pretend for a second that I am not. That it does matter how we portray ourselves to our children. I am not a perfect parent by far, but wherever I can I try to show the same respect for my children that I expect them to show for me. Try and remind yourself next time you start taking your situation for granted, look your child in the eye - see the world of learning and experience occurring in them. The small things
do matter - even if everything else may say otherwise these days. And so, if I look strange to some, so be it... they are not my intended audience. I want my children to know that I will respect them - and they will respect me, not because we have to, but because it feels good to do so.
I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season