I am a mother to two baseball fanatic little boys who are quickly growing into young men. We are at the beginning of our fall baseball season so our family is spending a great deal of time at the local ball fields. As a homeschool family, I have to say that we sincerely enjoy having the kids around all the other boys a few times a week. It’s great for the socialization everyone always worries about! However, watching the games I am reminded of all those influences I am trying to hard to protect my boys from. The vast majority of the players in our league are great kids. They play well together, and they have great sportsmanship. But there are those few who seem to forget that it’s just a game. Parents yelling and screaming at a child for striking out quickly leads to a kid who will yell and scream and stomp off the field when he’s tagged out in a play.
This week I watched a child throw his arms up and argue with an umpire because he didn’t agree with a play. I know it sounds silly and small but picture a 10-year-old child arguing with a grown man over a baseball game, this isn’t a small problem. It’s disrespect for authority and it’s so prevalent among young men these days. My middle son saw it too, he looked at me with a little bit of horror on his face… I smiled and reminded him quietly that I’d better never see him do such a thing. He shook his head, assuring me that he wouldn’t dream of it.
We’ve worked very hard to teach our children that God has set people in authority over us and that we are to be respectful to everyone, not just the people we agree with. It seems that society as a whole has stopped teaching this lesson. Have you ever looked up the definition of respect in the dictionary? Merriam-Webster defines it as follows…
Respect: a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way
In order for a child to be able to respect someone they need to understand that the person has value. It seems that many children today are taught that their value is above all others and this is the death of respectfulness in children and young adults. As I watch these kids on the ball field, I see 3 major respect killers… and I think we are all guilty of them at times.
Respect killer #1: Undermining Authority
Think about it in this scenario… a boy is running to first after hitting a ground ball and he’s thrown out. The umpire calls him out and the child leaves the field right? No big deal, it happens to every single kid who ever plays the game. But what if that child gets to the dugout and is upset, as many of them are, and rather than telling the child that it’s ok, he’ll do better next time, the parent tells him that the umpire is wrong or blind or that he was clearly safe! Guess what that parent just did? He lessened the value of the umpire in the eyes of the child. Now that child has lost respect for this person of authority in his life. The same thing happens in school, if a parent tells a failing child that the teacher is picking on him and that it’s not his fault he has a bad grade the parent lessons the value of the teacher, which in turn causes the child to not respect the teacher.
God tells us that we are to respect the governing authorities in our life as they are all placed there by Him. This means all, teachers, umpires, bosses, presidents… God has placed these people in a position of authority over each of us for a purpose. When a parent challenges that authority to a child he is undermining God’s will in that child’s life.
Ephesians 6:4 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
It takes a great deal of discipline over our own mouths to raise respectful children. It’s easy when we see our child hurting to blame the person of authority, but it’s not the right way to handle the situation. When we let our child learn to deal with life’s disappointments we are teaching them not only to respect the authorities put in place above them but we are also teaching them to work harder in future situations.
Respect Killer #2: Children who are taught they are perfect
There has been one perfect soul on this planet. Jesus Christ is perfection. He’s the bar so to speak. Somehow our society has decided that we need to tell our children that they are the best at everything for the sake of their self esteem. I have news for you… your child isn’t perfect. Don’t worry, neither is mine. My kids are flawed. Parenting imperfect children is hard. It’s a constant battle between their flesh and my faith. Telling your children that they are perfect is actually a huge disservice. I know I’m using a lot of baseball analogies but stay with me here: If a child strikes out and comes into the dugout crying, you have two choices… you can tell him that the ump called them strikes when they were clearly balls but you’ll once again undermine the authority of the umpire.You’ll also create a lack of respect in your child’s heart. If you lift him up and tell him he’ll do better next time you’ll encourage him to practice and to work hard; to be diligent in his work. Which one of these scenarios is going to create a more respectful adult?
If we want our children to esteem someone above themselves we have to be willing to tell our children that there are other people who are better than they are. That’s a hard one in today’s society. We spend countless time telling our kids how great they are. How they are the best at everything. They get a trophy every single time the show up for a season, regardless of how hard they work. We’ve created a generation of kids with a huge amount of self worth but very little respect for anyone else. It has to stop. It’s ok if your kid isn’t the star. It’s ok if they aren’t the best student in class. Coming in second should be met with encouragement to work hard, not an explanation of how they were wronged in some way by not being recognized as the best.
Respect Killer #3: Being a disrespectful adult
You can’t raise a respectful child if you are not a respectful adult. When you are a parent you are being watched constantly. Every single thing you do or say in front of your children is written into their hearts. They learn from how you react to situations. If you argue with the umpire at a game, guess what they’ll do?? Yep, they’ll argue too. If you’re disrespectful to the adults around you they’ll learn to do the same. As a parent, you have to be willing to admit that you aren’t perfect either. You have to understand that God has put people in authority over you too. And you have to treat them as such. Show your children how to treat people of authority, teach them that their God is bigger than everyone, even you. Teach them to put others first, our society will be better for it.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…
Value others above yourselves… How hard is that? That’s the bar, that’s the goal. Those little words are how we raise respectful young men and women rather than a society of brats. Instilling this in our kids is how we end the attack on authority in this nation. It’s how we ensure that our kids will be godly adults who raise more godly, respectful children. It’s how we make sure that the next generation loves each other rather than just themselves.