Feb 102014 38 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.


38 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.

    • Lyly Reply

      My husband desrespecting yell at me in front of my two kids all the time while the grow up & drinks a lot on the weekend. His mood is totally different he become some how nice persion. Any way, what happened is my son is almost an alcoholic, & depress and my daughter lost the sens of life even after graduated from college. Both kids are disrespectful to ward me. I am a working mom too. I makes in front of my kids I leave off offf his money.Is this a result of my husband

  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.

  13. Michael Reply

    My wife won’t correct or discipline her daughter (my stepdaughter) and there are no consequences for bad choices or behaviors – except my wife “talks” to her, which the daughter ignores. I’m not allowed to say or do anything about it unless I want a full-blown fight with my wife. We’re not a team, we’re not partners, and we’re definitely not “one flesh.” I’m so tired of it that I just want out.

  14. Adam El-Yousseph Reply

    Respect for others, especially parents, is like a tune we can all dance to.

  15. Alexander Reply

    I rarely leave remarks, however i did some searching and wound up here Obey Your Mother, Respect My Wife – Kevin A.
    Thompson. And I do have 2 questions for you if you usually do
    not mind. Could it be just me or does it look like some of the responses appear like written by brain dead individuals?
    😛 And, if you are writing at other online sites, I’d like to follow anything new you have to post.
    Could you make a list of the complete urls of all your shared pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  16. Michelle Reply

    So many of the above situations sound like mine. My husband has an adult son from a previous relationship who is a deadbeat and a frequent resident of the city jail. It always concerned me that my husband instilled such disrespect toward the boy’s mother. Now the grown son is just a leach…going from household to household that will support him, all the while, my husband giving him money and paying his bills while barely helping financially with our own household and leaving me to pay almost all of the bills. Now, our 13 year old son has began acting out (usually toward me). He will talk back, argue, call me names, and even lunge at me. My husband sits and stares straight ahead, as if nothing is happening. He says it is my problem. Tonight, my son was acting up, and I sent him to his room. I heard my husband say that we both (my son and I) had a problem. I confronted him, and he said that I didn’t want a family and to figure out what to do about our house we just bought. All because I asked him to back me up instead of put me down in front of our child. He’s doing his best to make this one just like his oldest son. I’m not sure what to do.

  17. Paula Lindon Reply

    Hi Kevin

    Thank you for this. Not sure if you can help here but our daughter is 34 and has BPD. She takes her anger out on me (mother). Since she was born, my husband has been at her beck and call. If she accuses me of something, he listens to her then interrogates my version until I begin to believe I’m in the wrong. She has verbally insulted me for being angry at decisions my husband and I made together and he doesn’t say anything. I sought the help from a therapist who said he should support me as our daughter was manipulating him. This worked for a while but he’s reverting back. Worse still, he denies it, says I’m being paranoid and refuses to discuss. My friends tell me they see 2 against 1. What can I do now?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would keep an ongoing relationship with a therapist. Seems like it wasn’t solved the first time.

  18. Lilly Reply

    I dont agree especially if the spouse is hateful or disrespectful to the child the parent should take the childs side. Just because its an adult does not give them permission to overstep boundaries or abuse a child emotionally,psychologically,physically etc it teaches them to let people walk all over them and not have a voice. Self respect comes first regardless of title I encourage my children to cut anyone out of their lives that are disrespecting or abusing them family, friends anyone they are all very successful

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      In no way would I promote hateful or disrespectful behavior toward a child. that’s not what this article is about.

  19. Motherfedup Reply

    I am dealing with a teenage daughter who direspects me daily while quick to expect me to come to her rescue in every situation. Her disrespect even include keeping me waiting for long periods of time, when we are to meet and then acting like it is no big deal. She talks over me rudely and with an attitude. She walks away if she doesn’t want to be disciplined for her rude and smart mouth. She had even lied to a teacher before and had Cys come to my house and they even said they feel she I need s support system to deal with her lack of respect for authority figures because she gave attitude to them to. The police came once and once they tried talking to her she gave a nasty attitude that even pissed them off. I told them we got in a heated arguement over her disrespect and sneaking off with and older guy and cause she pushed me.
    She shouts me down and when I ask her to stop she won’t and then when I try to make her leave she won’t and if I raise my voice back after taking it so long she then plays victim. I believe she may be a narcissist. She treat my house like a hotel and does nothing unless I argue with her to and she is pissed that she had to. She has a good job and complains about putting 5 bucks in the gas station to ride her work.
    It is pure hell in my house. My husband was falling for her victim mask until she started treating him the same and I started checking out so he can experience her lack of obedience in important matters.
    She puts her boyfriend before everyone and even had alienated the cat we gave her as a gift. He is a young cat and loves her very much but now she just ignores him and runs to her boyfriend every chance she gets leaving a dirty house on me to do by myself. She lives out of her hamper cause she is chasing her boyfriend. She won’t put her dirty dishes away and leave her clothes and things everywhere. If I get on her about it she plays victim.
    She says now ‘ I am 18 years old I can do what I want’ to get out of showing me any respect or kindness is help with the house she runs to her grandma’s on days when not with her boyfriend’s. My mother passed in Feb and she had not shown me any kind of love and support. She simply doesn’t care. I fear she may be a narcissist. She is very materialistic and all about what she can get from people and what they have. My daughter never wanted for anything cause me and her father stay with money to give her and her grandparents do also and her aunt’s and uncle’s and God mom. I told her to thank her other relatives with cards for always sending her money, she never did, now they have stopped reaching out to her. She just takes and gives what attitude she wants.
    Even my mother thought she needed an attitude fix. My mother was a childcare provider for years and doing my daughter to be quite self involved and lackjng in any real care for loved ones unless they do something for her.
    I am completely burnt out and told my husband I am considering leaving cause I no longer can deal with her parental abuse daily. She has even broke valuable things of mine, and treated like it was no big deal. She had someone rolling weed in my house and went off with them and back strangely tired and just blew me off
    She has had a fine education and have been really loved. Other kids have even said she is lucky and tell her I am their other mother yet she acts like it’s never enough.
    I have told family and friends how she treat me and they have said they couldn’t take it and don’t know how I do. She yells at me even infront of her friends. I now tell her to do things every time she disrespect me. She treats me like I am an employee and constantly tried to get her dad to stop me from disciplining her.
    If something don’t change before her graduation, I am leaving.

  20. Patty Reply

    I just left my home and my family (husband 22 yo son and 19yo daughter) because my son has continually verbally abused me and is disrespective. My husband has never stepped in or done anything. I’ve told my son to get out numerous times but my husband always sided with my son. Eight days ago was the worst and the final straw. I merely told my son to move his car so I could put it in the garage. He refused. He called me a bitch and a whore for the first time. I told him to get out now. My husband just stood there witnessing this whole thing. I left and it’s been the best decision I have made.

    Ps. No one has called to check up on me or to see how I am either. I am hurt deeply but I will no longer be disrespected. It Seems I got the better end of the deal. Do not take abuse of disrespect of any kind. I realize some don’t have the option as their kids are still minors, but nip it in the bud immediately. If your husband won’t, please find help or a way out.

  21. Susan Reply

    My grown children (23 and 21) can insult me and talk disrespectfully to me and it does not affect my husband at all. He doesn’t hear it or get involved.
    This hurts me and builds a wedge between us. I have talked to him about it several times and he just does not see it. Thinks I’m too sensitive. For years he told me they would grow out of it, it’s a phase. Now it’s the way they are with me. I don’t understand how he can see me so hurt and not feel my pain and want to stop whom ever is causing it, even if it’s his children. I often feel like the stepwife in my own home. I left him once, and reunited after counseling and several months. Things were better for a while. Now they are starting to revert back to the old ways. He is often tired from work, checked out, watches TV and ignores the verbal abuse. I”m at a loss.

  22. Susan Reply

    Patty, I feel your pain. I’m ready to leave as well. Left once and things improved but now I’m back to where we were. I”m 60 and we are close to being empty nesters but I’m not sure I can feel good about my marriage after so many years of his lack of support when it comes to standing up for me around my two daughters (21 and 23). It’s hurtful to me and does a disservice to our daughters. Not many people get it. Including friends and family.

  23. Luezette Reply

    This may be just a little off the grid, but if you don’t mind I would like to comment.

    I have a married son. 1.5 weeks ago he came over, and before he left he TOTALLY disrespected me!! I was appalled to put it lightly, and deeply hurt. I mentioned it to his wife, and what happened? SHE disrespected me too!
    So I let her know too, that in no way would I accept that behavior.
    Next I know my son said to me to “Leave her alone.” (Oh wait, I inadvertently left something out). Him and his brother talked about it and it was then I found out that my first son told his brother that “mommy started it.” Seriously?!
    In the meantime, the first son’s wife emailed me that she have up in charges if I don’t leave her alone and I’m scratching my head to understand what in the world is she talking about.
    So I emailed my son (first one) to tell him that I will NOT allow your wife to disrespect me!!
    In the meantime my son in North Carolina is appalled at his brother’s behavior towards me in that I’m not just mommy, but MOM!
    A part of me wants to call his wife (first son) and TALK to her. Oh and she TOLD me via email to not speak to her family members and my son (the nerve because her mother and Aunt and I have a good rlrelationship). She has absolutely NO right to dictate to anyone, much less ME who to talk to or not!!

    Thank you.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m sorry for your experience. I’m intrigued that your son disrespected you but you talked to his wife about it first. In my opinion, all of this is a conversation between you and your son, not between you and your daughter in law. I would have a conversation with him and if that doesn’t work, I would sit down with a counselor to mediate.

  24. H.E. Reply

    Two of my three children and husband have Asperger’s Syndrome. My husband is often detached and a non-existing parent. He lives in his own world and often attacks me verbally. I bring it up to him and he doesn’t see it. I ask him to be nice and he is good for a day or so and then it happens again. The problem is I have three teenagers and they are doing the same. I left for about two weeks as a wake up call and stayed with my mother. My husband said it would change, so I came back. It hasn’t and I feel more alienated than ever.

    My kids are 18, 15, 14. With this quarantine, there is no escape. My husband and I are both laid off and I have no spare money for counseling.

    I am feeling like this is a lost cause because he has never defended me; honestly I have defended him more. I have been in a situation where another man forced himself on me and kissed me and my husband did nothing. My kids refer to me as Karen, as if I don’t exist and not worthy of being called mom or by my real name. I ask the kids to pick up their things and they ignore me. I talk with them and I get a blank stare. I get yelled at frequently and I have been told to shut up and clean because that is my job as a mother… And again, my husband does nothing.

    I know when a woman is done… She is done. Period. Kinda feeling that I am there or darn close!

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