Parents & Disrespect

Posted on June 12, 2014 · Posted in Authority, Parenting

Moms and dads often struggle with not being respected. It is tempting to think that life would be better if you only had a little more respect. It is true that children are commanded to respect parental authority. But, it is also true, that demanding respect will not help your children to respect you. So, what should you do when you are disrespected? 

Consider these two principles:

 Respect is not a personal entitlement.

 Respect is to be won.

Respect is not a personal entitlement. The truth is that you did nothing commendable to earn the respect due to your position as a parent. This position was something that God gave to you, you did nothing to earn it. This is humbling. This means that when you are disrespected, you should not complain or be bitter because of personal offense. It is the office of parent that is being disrespected. When there is a lack of respect there is one question that should be your first consideration: is it possible the disrespect is because you have not been faithful to lead as God commanded? This is a question humility demands that you ask.  Only after asking and answering this question are you ready to deal with disrespect that may be the fault of those under your authority.

This leads to the second principal. Respect is to be won, not demanded.  The writer of the Hebrews notes that earthly fathers disciplined their children and they were respected for doing so. This is an example of respect that is won.  Respect comes from following and doing what God has commanded. Serving God faithfully as a parent (including following his instruction not to exasperate your children) will lead to respect. 

Inconsistency in discipline, harsh words, failure to listen well, selfishness, arguing with your spouse, among other things, will foster disrespect. In other words, failing to address your own sins leads to hypocrisy which leads to a lack of respect.

Demanding respect will only lead to disrespect. Any outward behavior change you may temporarily gain by demand is not respect, but grudging compliance. Demanding respect will not win respect. 

Raising children in the fear and discipline of the Lord requires humility before God. Teach children to follow God’s ways and his methodology. Your job is not to require your own set of personal preferences. Yes, teach your children that they are to respect your authority. But do this with a humble spirit, freely admitting your shortcomings as a parent. Asking forgiveness in humility when you have been wrong will help you to win the respect of your children.

If you find yourself despairing about a lack of respect and honor shown to you, look to God first. Your authority will be established by humility and righteousness. Earnestly seek God for these things. Long to know how you can serve your heavenly Father more faithfully, rather than being concerned about how others are not honoring you. 


Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.