Feb 102014 12 Responses

Obey Your Mother, Respect My Wife

There are few things as frustrating as a disrespectful child. Most parents can deal with mistakes, failures, immaturities, and a whole host of other imperfections within their children, but a lack of respect is unacceptable.

And it should be. (See: Why You Should Never Yell at a Tee-Ball Umpire)

Parents should not tolerate a lack of respect from their children. Few things should result in quick discipline as much as disrespect.

In most discipline situations, whichever parent is directly involved in the issue should carry out the discipline. Unless asked, I do not get involved when my wife is disciplining our children and she doesn’t interrupt when I’m doing the discipline. Think of it this way: he/she who sees the crime determines the time.

There are only two exceptions to this rule. If one parent’s frustration is exceeding the issue, it is fair for the other parent to step in and assist. This should be done by asking the co-parent if they would like help. The child does not get to choose which parent they deal with. If my spouse desires help, I give it.

Yet there is one time in which we should step in with or without our spouse’s permission—when the child is disrespecting our spouse. If my son or daughter fails to obey my wife, they have a problem with her. If my son or daughter fails to respect my wife, they have a problem with me. And in those moments I make it clear their problem is with me. While I often say “obey your mother,” I never say “respect your mother.” I say “respect my wife.” (See: Parenting–Too Involved, Not Involved Enough)

When they fail to show respect to their mother, they are crossing a line with me because their mother is my wife. The change in terminology helps remind them that their relationship with their mother is not the ultimate relationship. Their actions impact others. And as important as the parent/child relationship is, the husband/wife relationship comes first.

This concept is difficult for many people—especially mothers. However, it is in your child’s best interest. When you put your child before your spouse, both lose. When you put your spouse before your child, both win.

There is a secret which many parents aren’t willing to admit.

Many children disrespect their parents, not because it’s a natural part of growing up, but because it is the primary behavior they have seen modeled. They disrespect our spouses because so do we. (See: 3 Things To Do When Parenting Goes Wrong)

When we fail to respect our spouses, our children will likely do the same. Sometimes they follow our behavior because they don’t know better—they simply do what they have seen. At other times, they show a lack of respect because it is a boundary which can be tested because they know we do not have the credibility to rebuke them.

There are few things more sadly ironic than a parent attempting to discipline a child for something the parent does. The child might be forced to temporarily obey, but their heart will not be changed by the discipline. They will see the hypocrisy and be more influenced by what they see than what they hear.

Whenever a child continually fails to show respect, we must look at ourselves to consider if they have had respect modeled for them. Do we show respect to our spouses when our children are present or absent and do we live a life in which we are able to respect ourselves.

Often, the disrespect which frustrates us in our children is nothing more than a mirror of the lack of respect we are showing ourselves or our spouses.

If you disrespect your spouse, don’t be surprised when your child disrespects you.

If you disrespect your spouse, don’t be surprised when your child disrespects them as well.

If you aren’t living a life worthy of respect, change yourself before demanding respect from your child.


12 Responses to Obey Your Mother, Respect My Wife
  1. Eliece Reply

    This is so true and so very well said. All men should feel this way about their wife and teach their children this respect. How different the world would be!

  2. […] We are often irritated by our children’s disrespect and thanklessness because it mimics our o... kevinathompson.com/teaching-your-kids-respect
  3. omeaga haynes Reply

    Wow this is some good stuff. My situation is a little different though.. My son’s father and I are not together but I still want to know how to implement this obey your mom, respect your (??????) concept. How could my son’s dad teach our son to respect me??? just as a woman? Thank you so much Mr. Kevin and I need to adjust some of my disrespectful behavior to my son’s dad and to myself. Well said.

  4. sadmomandwife Reply

    sigh… going through this right now… but problem is… husband and daughter think that it is all me… neither one of them respect me…. if my daughter is out of line, and the youngest is not far behind her….. She is rude but thinks she is funny, says it is a joke.. I tell her that she needs to stop that name calling hurts peoples feelings.. her younger sister is bigger than her and she is all ways calling her fat. Always has to but in to everyone’s conversation and give her two cents. She is very demanding… I try to discipline, sometimes my husband will step in and tell me I am out of line. other times he will just sit there and will do nothing when I ask him for help.. he said it is not his battle.. it is all mind… She will laugh at me and walk away and tells me I am crazy.. I try to tell my husband that he needs to be more supportive and then he starts to tell me that I do not know how to discipline. He is away from home 3-4 days a week. He also will complain about things around the home.. stuff not done. ect. Also.. when she is disrespectful to him I used to tell her to respect him…. I no longer do anything……. I gave up………. As he does nothing for me…..

    I work over an hour from home.. and drive the oldest to a school that is on my way to work as she hated the school in town. . The youngest is home alone and stays in the school in town. I am just lost.. and no matter how many times I try to sit down and talk to them about my feelings and that the disrespect is hurtful nothing happens. I want to throw in the towel and just walk away ………

    • Jay Reply

      please don’t. God bless you.

    • Momof3 Reply

      Omg, we are living the same life. Except I have thrown in the towel. I isolate myself in my room that my husband no longer sleeps in with me but maybe 2 to 3 days a month that we might get along. And I no longer work or feel I have a reason to get out of bed anymore. I feel terrible my oldest is going to college and he just expressed his feelings that he feels he has to work full time for school because I don’t. And he feels bad for his dad that he works so hard. Which he does but, he gets out during the week takes 3 vacations with the guys throughout the year. Nothing with me. If we do go out it’s like to shut me up or it’s suppose to fill me up for a while. How I feel and what he is modeling to my boys. I know I need to get a job for myself again and start going out more it’s just hard and I am told by all the men in this house I can use a car when I get a job. Wth? Sorry for the rant

  5. […] Saying motherhood is the highest calling in life is a syrupy line meant to evoke sentimental feeling... kevinathompson.com/motherhood-not-highest-calling
  6. karissa Reply

    Same here.
    My husband believes that if my daughter is disrespecting me verbally, he doesn’t see the need to step in. because I have to learn to gain that respect from her. When my husband corrects my daughter, she listens.
    Reason being is that he uses fear, where I on the other hand use love.
    My daughter doesn’t take me seriously and my husband does nothing about it. Is it right for my husband to turn in to a still Ken, doll when my daughter is disrespecting me?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      No. He should realize her disrespecting you is actually her disrespecting him as well.

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