Feb 102014 21 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.


21 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.

  7. Judy Reply

    Due to domestic violence and drug abuse we have had custody of our daughters son now 6 for 5.5years.
    As she was homeless we allowed her to move back home sayi ng there would be rules. Within one day she flipped out and has been doing so ever since. Her problem is with me as I will not let her walk all over me. My husband on the other hand just wants a quiet life. His way of dealing with her is to let her stay in bed until she decides to rise around 3pm and rather than ask her to do anything he will do it.
    I know she does not like the bond her son and I share but if left to her he would have no attention what so ever. When I tell her to get up and do something which is usually to clean the mess she has left she is verbally abusive and threatening. I have told her to leave many times and admit my husband has tried in the past. He has told her the home is both of ours not just his as she will say because he is the worker I am thr homemaker (and raising her child). I have recently spent 2 months away from home for a family bereavement and organising care.for my Mother who suffers dementia. My daughters parting words were she hopes the plane crashes and she has prayed it will.I told my husband I wanted her gone when I returned. Clearly everything was fine when I was away according to my husband our daughter has been paying attention to her son, helping with chores and his bedtime. My son who is the opposite to his sister tells me this is not true, she did as little as possible and was mostly away overnights. Now I am back and the arguing starts again. I recorded her yesterday and played it to my husband who didn’t listen to the whole 7 minutes and claimed it was inaudible. He has said nothing to her again. I confronted him about not listening to the recording and said hiw did he not hear it clearly. He said he had heard some of it but that was all he had to say. He doesnt say anything about the verbal abuse or threats to me but seems to self medicate himself from the problem with drink. I feel so alone and ready to leave. I only worry for my Grandson going into care if I left but the constant stress is making me so unhappy.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      In a complicated situation like this, I would get outside help from a professional counselor.

  8. Mike Reply

    WOW my wife all of sudden wants to allow her grown children and granddaughter to come in and flop. The oldest son drove from Mississippi to East Georgia unannounced saying a drug dealer was looking for him. Out of kindness and verbal abuse from my wife I gave him and a friend a couple of days to stay. Then I said you got to go, the mom got angry. The granddaughter 22 years old been staying with for 8 months have no.plans stay in the bed past noon and very disrespectful. I gave her until September 1st to leave. Now my wife says I’m mean and Im the one disrespectful. The son drives a round this small town doing crack. I won’t let them and the granddaughter burst into our bedroom without knocking not speaking. I asked my wife to speak her, instead my wife starting hurling insults. Plus she said she is moving. It’s so sad because they will drain her dry mentally and financially. She says I’m the problem. I told her Im not bending from the rules which is respect, LOVE but you can’t come to our house witb a drug problem or laying in bed past noon with no.plans for 8 months. I can’t do it..

  9. Megan Reply

    I’m remarried. We have five boys between us. My ex was abusive . My oldest learned his abusive cursing yelling and putting me down. I cringe and retreat. My husband will stand there as my 24 yr old son cussed at me and he says nothing- how can he let his wife be treated that way and not intervene telling my son that isn’t how you treat or talk to your mom? How am I to be a matriarch if when I speak it means nothing.? I feel alone in a mans world- I support the family w my income. I work very hard- my youngest is sweet and didn’t spend the time w his dad. I tried to talk to my husband about my feelings and he was instantly defensive and put on headphones and turned away!!!

  10. Tony grey wolf Reply

    Yet fatherhood is so sacred.yet, the fathers are the ones who is not getting the respect.

  11. Rose Reply

    I come from a very nice upbringing, in which there was only love and mutual respect. We didn’t fight or try to use guilt/manipulate one another’s emotions. Your words ring so true, applied to my marriage in which I am the step mother of a 30 year old daughter. Thankfully she lives far away and cannot live nearby as we our out of the country. These bi-annual trips seem to take such a severe toll on us, and my husband is in denial. The closest he came is in sitting her down a few visits ago, explaining that she is behaving very passive aggressively. Husband is getting older and wearing down though, and now is claiming the ways she is rationalizing her behavior. All being passive has done is provide some strange power trip to her… it is very odd.
    My words have rung like yours, in this young woman may be mirroring his disrespect.
    Wish me luck and great way of wording this.

  12. Lonely Reply

    I have the same situation. When I dissapline my daughter she runs to her father. She gets joy out of him yelling at me and getting her way.
    He can’t deal with parenting or marriage. Locks himself in the garage after work for hours and leaves me with all the kids and home duties. I work full time as well from home and he resents the fact I am always around. Deep down I know he hates me but just dealing with it so I can tend to kids. We have not slept in same bed for years and be moved down in basement after I created a hang out room for the kids. He took it over. I resent him more for this.
    Not only does he yell at me but he belittled me in front of the children calls me crazy and walks away with anger. Daily. He only come in the house to eAt and sleep. He will on rare occasion spend time with kids but he is uasually high and drinks every night now.
    I am trapped and now my children abuse me.
    I am ready to throw in the towel.
    To top it off he rejects me and never ever spends one on one time. Meh wants to be left alone high and he makes this abundantly clear.
    If he is disturbed we pay the price.
    He has even closed off windows in garage so I can’t look in hodes his phone and is very private with everything.
    I don’t know him anymore only his anger and hatred toward me.
    My children are mirroring his behavior and my life sucks.
    I cater to the children the onkynout I get is kid related I go without and getting any assistance whether financial or emotion is a fight.
    I am literally alone.
    Sleep alone eat alone work alone and parent alone.
    I might as well be alone.
    They all tell me I am no good and crazy and beat down any opini or advice I give.
    This is truly a terrible marriage and parenting life.
    I see it all unfolding and not one seam to grasp.
    I am at the point of work sleep go to room I even gave up on cleaning and cooking.
    And when if o do it’s never good enough.
    If he doesn’t change his ways soon I will pack up and leave and without notice and he can raise the children no matter how much I love them. I can no longer survive with this atmosphere and life that has been made.
    It is staring to affect all area.

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