What you give is what you get

I was talking with a friend about parenting and the issue of respect came up. This reminded me of my own journey through “I just need respect!” with my children. There was a period of way too long that I was caught in a sort of battle with my children over respect. Now, don’t get me wrong, my children are respectful – especially of others. I get rave reviews back from others when they are around them, but I felt that for some reason when they were with me, they lacked respect for me, my parenting, or my decisions. I was forever questioning whether they respected me as a parent. I would make a decision and I would get, “Why?” Then an “argument” against whatever I had decided. This began to seem like it happened with every decision. I was caught in a quandary, because I have intentionally set out of raise children who are able to speak their mind, then when they do…I decipher it as disrespect! There are other supporting situations, the most frustrating of which was bedtime. I have made many changes to this bedtime thing, mainly because I want them to listen to their body and sleep when they are tired, not go to bed because I say it’s time to go to bed. However, I noticed that I needed downtime every night so that I could show up the next day in a rested, peaceful and loving space. When they wouldn’t go to bed, I would get upset. And I would yell. So, here I was reciting all of the freedoms I was giving them, all of the ways in which I was honoring their needs and requests, but when I was asking something in return, I felt like I never got it. (Victim and martyr, I know).

Because I always reflect upon what I’m modeling and come at it from the point that I get what I give, I kept scrutinizing all the ways I was giving respect..why wasn’t I getting respect? One day I noticed that when I would begin to tell them something that I didn’t like, or needed changed, or wanted to happen, I would flip into this authoritarian tone. My voice would raise a few notches, my tone would become stiff and bossy. This was consistent. It was as if I would put on my Mother voice and begin to issue orders. If they didn’t listen or seemed distracted, I would start to yell. Not screaming, mind you. But a very loud voice. And the feeling in my body was as if I would going to explode at any moment. That got their attention. But not the attention I wanted to get. Their faces were shock and a little fear. Well, this is the last thing I want to exchange with my children – authority and fear. I had been successful in respecting their bodies and not hitting them, and there was some part of me that kept telling me that yelling was as violent as hitting, but I hadn’t figured out how to get what I wanted without being Big Mama Bear and growling fiercely to get my point across. Yes, I know this is a common M.O. for parenting in this world, but I have always wanted something better. True loving communication. I know others use it, I want that for my children. And, I wasn’t using it. I was slipping into an old paradigm that – in my opinion – needed to retire. I was, after all, raising future adults and teaching them how to communicate. If I was teaching them to communicate with anger to get their needs filled, I had not accomplished what I had set out to do – educate how to be changemakers and communicate with peace.

Well, as always does when I shift my perception, a wondrous think happened (as usually does with self-evaluation). I began to get what I gave – in a new way. I was truly giving respect and I was getting it.

The more I live, the more I find this to be true. When I see something I don’t like, look inside. I’ve never been disappointed to find the answer there. I focus on what I want. I shift. Things change.

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