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Well, here it is 3 days after the Friday I usually post the next month’s Family Focus, but it was my birthday weekend + Easter so hopefully you’ll let it slide just this once. How did March’s focus on work go for your fam? I have to tell you, work was a lot of work! 😉 But, it ended up being something that we really needed to talk about, especially since we are knee deep in trucking season around here. Could we do better, yeah no doubt, but slowly and surely we are learning and getting stronger.
My son earned money hauling hay for a family down the street, finished a difficult merit badge, started weight lifting after school once a week, and helped me pull all the old broken cemented poles from my garden. I was really proud of him and how much he helped these past few weeks. He is becoming a very hard worker and it is an amazing thing to witness. His sisters on the other hand, are going to take a little longer to get there and it really bugs him, but I guess that is all part of growing up.
We all learn at our own rate and in our own time.
We’ve had some experiences lately as a family that have inspired the focus I am planning for April. I won’t get to deep into details because they are my children’s personal struggles, their stories not mine. All I can say is growing up is hard. There are so many lessons and so many painful ways to learn them. Each lesson has to be learned on our own. One of those things we’ve been learning about a bit more than we wanted to is that age old lesson on bullying and it has gotten me thinking… how do I as a parent combat that? How do I teach my kids not only to be kind but why? We focused on kindness a few months ago and had some really great experiences with it, but obviously, it needs to go deeper.
All I can come up with is that we as a family and a society need to refocus on something a little old school…
Vocabulary.com defines the word respect as, “a way of treating or thinking about something or someone.”
There are so many ways we can take this focus that it’s almost overwhelming.
We can talk about respecting feelings, respecting boundaries, respecting someone else’s things, respecting the beliefs of others, respecting our grandparents, and having respect for ourselves among so many other things.
When I think of respect, I think of my mama.
She raised 5 boys and now as men, you better believe every single one of them knows how to hold a door for a lady and says “Yes, ma’am”. My mama insisted that we kids were respectful, she demanded it. She was raised on the Rogue River of Oregon, but she might as well have been raised in the south. Haha! Manners are important to Mama. She taught us to say please and thank you, to be kind, and to go the extra mile. I remember, multiple times, her sitting in the car, just waiting with that strong expression on her face that silently read “You better get your butt back here and open this door if you know what’s good for you!” when we’d forget to open her door. She wasn’t feeble and she knew darn well how to open her own door but she made us do it anyway. When I’d tease her about it and tell her that chivalry was dead, she’d say “Not on my watch it isn’t!” Maybe it was because as a young girl she had witnessed the opposite, I guess that’s her story but regardless, she was hell bent to teach her children how a woman should be treated.
I remember a time when I was disrespectful to my great-grandma. Grandma, who was also my piano teacher, and I went the rounds every week during my lessons. Grandma was old school and even had a yard stick that rapped your hands when your wrists dropped out of position. She was spunky, fun, witty, and somehow stuffed a huge personality in a teeny tiny body. Grandma was sassy but she didn’t take none… and let’s just say she and I were a lot alike. I don’t remember what I did, but I wasn’t respectful and my mother did not approve. We went right home and I wrote a letter in my best penmanship apologizing to my great granny with my mother standing over to make sure I did it right and “from the heart”. That’s just how my mother was, and I am so grateful for her example and constant teaching.
As a newlywed, my mama taught me another lesson. She taught me how to respect my spouse. I was frustrated with my new husband and called her up complaining, to which she shut me down and let me know all the things she loved about her son-in-law. If I wanted his respect, and for him not to act like an idiot, then I better respect him and quit acting like one, too. I learned a lot that day about respecting the man I love and it has stuck with me since.
The world needs more mamas who teach, cultivate, and demand respect in their homes. More mothers who know. I want to be a mother like that. I want to be that kind of mama.
Here are some ideas I found to help develop respect in my children and in myself and to help the attribute permeate our home.
This cute lesson found over on Or So She Says has a great message and a really fun sock puppet activity that younger kids will LOVE!
Eryn from Elementary Organization is an elementary teacher and used this little lesson in her classroom so she could teach her students the different ways we can show respect. Though it’s geared towards a classroom, I think this can be tailored to families also. After all, home is the most personal classroom of all!
Eryn even created a downloadable printable so you can post it somewhere in your home. Love it!
P.S. Henry’s voice is dreamy.
This darling digital print from Little Minnow Designs comes in multiple colors and couldn’t be any cuter. It fits an 8×10 frame and would be a wonderful reminder for the month’s focus.
In an increasingly rude world, let’s be old fashioned and teach our kids manners.
We’ll be all sorts of hipster, just without the fake glasses and 70’s porn-stash. Win.
Maria Dismondy, a children’s book author shares 10 of her favorite books for kids on the topic of respect. Find her list HERE.
One of her suggestions stood out to me, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for!
I have a little one who is learning about being her own brave, shiny self even when others try to stop her, so I bought this book for her.
First off, I just have to say that I think this teacher is awesome!
I love this video he made with his students about respect. If you have kids who love music, why not help them create their own rap or song about respect?
Respecting animals, property, and the earth are all important concepts.
This post shows 12 ways that kids can make a difference and respect the world around them.
Have your children record in their journal 10 things they love about themselves or that makes them unique. Then sit and talk to them about each quality and why you love that about them too. We want our kids to not only respect others, but to love and respect themselves too. One way we can teach self-respect is to help them strengthen their self-esteem. If you are religious, this would be a great time to talk about your beliefs and how knowing who they are can help them feel rooted and strong.
Self-respect is vital.
I have been following The Listening Ear Project on Instagram for a while now and every single post warms my heart. The mission of the two cute gals behind the project is to “visit the elderly and share their incredible stories + timeless advice”. I love the message that they are giving, that the elderly have more to give than we give them credit for. That stories, advice, joy, and experience are just waiting for us to discover by reaching out to the grandmas and grandpas that dot our lives. Why not help your children develop a listening ear this month? Visit a nursing home, ask Grandma how she and Grandpa met, do a service for an elderly neighbor. There are so many ways we can and should teach respect for our elders.
Ask the questions, feel their love, and discover the stories before it’s too late!
So, why focus on respect?
Well, I guess because we want to raise kind, loving, compassionate, good people who make this world a brighter place each day just by being in it. As a mother, I want my kids to give, not just take, to know that someone’s success doesn’t take away from theirs, that they can be friends even when they don’t agree, and that the Golden Rule still rules. I want my kids to understand that people will remember how we made them feel long after we’ve left their presence. But, more importantly, we will remember how we made them feel and how that made us feel in the process.
“Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
These are just a few of the ideas I was able to find, but there are hundreds more out there!
As always, I’ve created a Pinterest board full of ideas, activities, and thoughts to help get the creative juices flowing. You can find that HERE.
I hope you were inspired and feel a little more prepared to take on a big topic like this one. With so much coming at my kids, I hope this lesson is one they choose to take to heart.
Happy Parenting, my friends… may the force be with you.