How to Encourage Respect and Improve the Emotional Climate in our Homes
A Free Write, Unedited Reflection that Unveils Need for More Connection, Focused Vision, Clear Boundaries and Expectations, and Embodied Virtues
This is a free write with no editing, but I’m writing for the sake of writing and maybe you can glean something from it, too.
I’m in a constant reflective (and wanting to be and do better) state. It’s hard for me to settle down and be content in the present moment, allowing for messes and imperfection. I’m constantly seeing what’s broken or lacking or in need of improvement, and I’m weary. With that said, it’s probably my greatest addiction, and I’m going to lean into what I’m seeing and feeling here lately.
I want my kids to respect me. I want us all to create better boundaries. Physically, emotionally, all around relationally. With people outside our home, of course, but I really feel like it starts here between the four of us in our own four walls.
My kids inevitably and almost nightly (the wee hours of the morning) get into bed with my husband and me. My daughter wants to cuddle and my son gets mad. Everyone gets grumpy. I love and connection and want my kids to always feel freedom to come to me when they need me, but this sleep pattern is serving no one well. I want my children to embrace physical affection in all the ways they need and want to, but in this area, I’m failing at teaching consent. Like, my daughter should take a hint that her brother doesn’t want to cuddle the first time he grumbles a complaint or pushes her arm away. That’s just one example. At the least, I want each of my children to feel attuned to the feelings of one another, so that if one would like the other to stop what he or she is doing, they honor that person in that moment.
I feel disrespected often as of late, and I think it’s my fault. I’m not super old school in my parenting, so I’ve not made a huge deal about my children respecting me in the traditional sense, but lately, I’m seeing the value in decent manners, tidiness and responsibility as a way of respecting the home, their material possessions, the work my husband and I do in and out of the home, and the like. I feel so disrespected when my children (okay, child) don’t (doesn’t) want to sit to eat, when they grumble about the food that’s been served, when they haphazardly take off their shoes and jackets, leaving them by the door or in kitchen, rather than taking them to the hall closet and hanging them up (like decent human beings). I feel disrespected when clothes are left lying in the middle of their bedroom, when toothpaste isn’t washed out of the sink after brushing, when blocks are not put away after they finish building. These tasks are not too big for little people. I am so weary. And when I get weary, I get angry.
In my discontentment and frustration due to unmet expectations (that have been unrealized, until now, and never properly communicated), I am creating more unhealthy and disrespectful habits and patterns.
I’d like to change things in my home, set a different tone, perhaps. I think I’ve been working on these things in small ways for a while, but I fall into old habits of cleaning up after my kids because I can do it faster, picking and hanging up jackets or clearing the table because they’re only children. But I am failing them miserably when I do these things. I am enabling and disabling them. Then I am projecting my own frustration and disappointment in unhealthy and disrespectful ways when I didn’t give them an expectation to begin with. I’ve had unrealized expectations, so I suppose I ought to begin to expect things and communicate those things around my home.
I’m hoping to instill:
Respect (across the board)
Natural or Logical Consequences in response to unmet expectations
Appreciation for things in our care, those things we possess, the things we’ve been given — as basic as food, clothing, shelter, accessories, entertainment
And to create:
A clear family vision (not something we may attain quickly but a vision to work toward and practice faithfully)
Clearer family values (our children are changing as they grow, which means I am changing as I (we) grow, which means our values are, in part, changing as well. We’ve established family values before, but it’s time we revisit and revise.)
Expectations for our home and behaviors based on said values
Succinct ways of expressing said expectations
I’d like to practice:
Checking the attitude of our hearts (something I’ve repeatedly come back to but have yet to put into action in our home is the memorization and embodiment of Philippians 4:8 and a study and embodiment of the fruits of the spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22–23)
I need so much work in these areas. I’d be a fool to imagine that my children are needing the impartation of such virtues without thoroughly working out the ugly and inviting the practice of godliness in my own heart.
Here’s a few other things I’m really wanting to do:
I want to hug more — in frequency and duration (meaning a good, solid, couple second hug, with eye contact upon release — and with consideration that the desire for such affection is equally desired and reciprocated).
I want to practice patience by committing to stop raising my voice. (I’m not sure if it’s possible, but raising my voice has become a default too often, and I want this to change.)
I want to smile a lot. (I’ve noticed recently that I tend to smile a lot more outside my home than in. Acknowledging that, even to myself, puts an ache in my heart and really grieves me. I love my kids and husband more than anyone else, yet I practice patience and smiling and giving and receiving much more gracefully with friends and acquaintances than I do my own family. I imagine this may not be uncommon, but it’s not right.)
I also want to believe in right and wrong, and come to teach and expect what is right in my home. (I’m a gray thinker most of the time, and I like that about myself. But I also want to narrow my focus to a few things that I believe can serve as ethical standards for our home and within our faith landscape, then hold to those things unapologetically — and kindly.)
Okay, I think that’s all for now. I’m craving transformation. I am craving clearer vision and concrete steps I can take to live more faithfully to it.
Maybe this can help some of you, too.
Peace to you.