No Disrespecting Mommy (or Daddy!) – Ever!

No Disrespecting Mommy (or Daddy!) – Ever!
October 29, 2015 Matthew L. Jacobson

matthewljacobson-com_momandchildNo parent is okay with disrespect coming from their child . . . at least in words. Practice . . . reality . . . that’s another matter. In fact, what many parents of young kids say about their children defying them and how they parent resembles the distance between stars.

Why the disconnect? Why do parents who know it is wrong for their children to disrespect them allow Lil Miss Attitude to stick out her jaw, put her hands on her hips, and say, “No!” in direct opposition to what she was just told? How about the child who repeatedly strikes out at Mommy with a defiant, angry spirit? Why do parents allow behavior in their kids they know is wrong?

It’s usually one of three reasons.

Some parents think defiant behavior in their young kids is cute. But it isn’t cute. It’s a window into the future – your future – and what is cute at 2 is dreadful at 16. You may have the will and power to control your defiant child today when it really matters to you but that time will soon pass. At some point, your child will realize that you no longer have the power to control. The early childhood years go by like a comet in the night sky. What then? You’re not raising a young child. You’re training an adult and the character you instill in a young child is the foundation for the life he will lead. Defiant kids become willful adults. It isn’t cute.

Some parents are tired or Lazy. Being an “on point” parent is time consuming and exhausting. At times, it’s just plain hard. Your right in the middle of something and a simple request – Johnny, come here – turns into a battle. Sometimes we don’t want to bother. We’re busy. We’re in the middle of something important. I’ll let it pass, this time, we tell ourselves, but this time has a way of becoming every time.

Sometimes parents are Ignorant and feel powerless. They know the situation is wrong but don’t know what to do, especially if it happens in public.

Disrespecting Mommy will not dissipate on its own. Defiance must be trained and disciplined from the heart of a child. How do we do that?

  1. Tell yourself the truth about what you are doing. Parenting is discipleship. Jesus trained his disciples and you are training yours. When we have clarity on what we are doing, the importance of it compels us to action.
  2. Stop accepting the unacceptable. The Bible says that, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” 1 Samuel 15:23. We don’t have to understand all the implications of this statement to know defiance in a child is very bad and is never acceptable.
  3. Address disrespect every time it appears, whether it’s convenient or not. Tell yourself, ‘I will never again let my child’s disrespect go unchecked.
  4. Let love motivate your discipline. Discipline that is done without love is sinful. We are admonished to “Speak the truth in love”. Ephesians 4:15. Love is the critical factor in biblical discipline. Without it, hearts will become hard.
  5. Examine your own heart and parenting to ensure you don’t do things that exasperate your child and drive him/her to defiance. To address the issue of disrespect in your child when you are the cause of that behavior makes you a hypocrite and kids don’t need any more of those!
  6. Seek God’s favor by taking your challenge to Him in prayer. Sometimes we attempt to do the most important things in our own strength. Ask God to do His work in your own heart and life so you can grow into the loving, faithful, wise, discerning parent He wants you to be.

God bless you as you seek to honor Him in the high calling of parenting.

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  1. Catie 6 months ago

    Can you give an example? Like, an example of discipline for disrespect?

  2. Marleana Hadad 7 months ago

    HI there! Question do you have any suggestions for disciplining disrespect?

  3. Mary 1 year ago

    I’m sorry to be the only negative voice to comment on this article, but I feel it’s unhelpful to a parent actually dealing with a strong willed child. To assume that the child is disrespectful because the parent hasn’t been consistent enough in their disciple is just awful. To tell a parent that they are just lazy, and that’s why their child is misbehaving? I’m sorry, I have to speak up.

    Strong willed children are relentless. They never give up. They take your discipline as a challenge. They would rather be miserable, crying and screaming in their room for hours, than give up their own free will. Maybe eventually they calm down, but no one has really won. For a time you can force them to submit to your discipline, but as several others have commented, eventually they wake up to the fact that they don’t have to do what you tell them anymore because they’re big enough. The parent realizes that their child is right, they can’t control them anymore, and they don’t have much of a close and open relationship to fall back on in those moments of crisis. (Not that it can’t be developed, but the longer you wait the harder it is to develop)

    How do you propose we “stop the accepting the unacceptable” or never let the disrespect go unchecked? Spanking? Yelling? Time-outs? Because I’m here to tell you that I battled with my daughter’s violent behavior towards her brother for 2 years. We did all of that and we were as consistent as a normal human being can be expected to be. It didn’t work. In fact, things escalated.

    For anyone that is interested in helpful advice about dealing with disrespectful children, check out Dr. Ross Greene. It’s great. We found helpful, durable solutions for our family where both the parent and the child feel mutually respected. To me, that’s the most christian way to parent.

    I do agree on one point in the article. Sincere, fervent prayer is priceless. No one knows you and your child as well as God, and so no one’s in a better position to help than He.

    • Author

      It’s rare to find a parent who believes their child isn’t strong-willed. Most problems with rebellious children (most, not all!) are due to improper parenting, not innate characteristics in the child. It’s a difficult fact for many to accept as the child’s character, typically, is the result of the parenting he/she has been subjected to – again, not always, but typically – which is to say, Parents own the character of their young children. The article, however, is not speaking to special cases of particular psychological problems. The psychiatrist you mentioned specializes in such cases – another matter, altogether, than the subject of the article.

    • Rebecca 12 months ago

      I would say that I have 3/3 strong willed children. I believe they all are. I have just decided to be more strong willed than they are. When their defiance is over and they are sweet again, usually after discipline, we talk about how it’s not acceptable. I’m still in the throws of parenting young children, but I’m lazy sometimes. I am. And I see the consequences. I think it was absolutely fine for him to call some parents lazy. We all are sometimes and our humility will bring our children closer to God.

  4. Rachael Falk 1 year ago

    This is a great article and I appreciate it. This may seem ridiculous but I have a hard time distinguishing the difference sometimes between actual disrespect and where I may just be expecting too much or being too controlling. I would love if you would write (or have already written) an article of what disrespect actually looks like. Is there one that you could direct me to that you have already written? Thanks!!

    • Mary Anne Kurzen 4 months ago

      Sometimes when a child is being disrespectful, one can resort to logic like I did. “I was NOT talking to you Nana, I am talking to MY MOM!” Says my one and only 3 year-old-grandson. “Okay Oskar, ” I say, Mommy is on the phone, and I was trying to be helpful, however, you may not address me like tat, it is disrespectful and unkind, two things unacceptable.” Somehow, they get it. If my daughter is in the room, I can just walk out. Spiritual? Not spiritual, this is common sense. If you stand your ground, they get it. Talk about it later when all is back on even keel. I was a push-over a good bit of my life, but I have found ways to stick up for myself, by walking the walk and talking the talk. If I don’t respect myself? Who will!!!!?
      Mary Anne Kurzen M.A. mother of 5 partially home-schooled college grads, and National Board Certified Secondary Teacher

  5. Renee 2 years ago

    Nice article! I have four children and I can clearly see that the hardest thing for me to do is be consistent with discipline. Disrespect from the oldest trickles down to the rest so it’s best to be consistent from the beginning.

  6. Lisa 2 years ago

    Thank you for this article! I, too, would love some ideas on how to discipline disrespect from my very strong willed 3-year-old. She is sweet as can be about her disobedience and disrespect. She is not a tantrum thrower. She also seems fairly unaffected by most disciplines we have attempted. I honestly believe much of the problem is that she has very little impulse control and just doesn’t think things through yet before she acts. But I still can’t let things go…I just don’t know what else to try.

  7. Becky 2 years ago

    I agree with this article… Can you post one on how to handle it when you’ve already failed? When they’re pre-teen and young teen and defiant and disobedient…

    • Sherrie 2 years ago

      Yes, please. My 11 year old has become horrible but only to/ with me and I don’t know what to do!

      • Jamie 1 year ago

        Oh, yes! Please give us an article with practice ways to manage disrespect from your kids. My eldest is only six but is mostly disrespectful in public.

    • Rebecca 12 months ago

      I’ve heard great things about “have a new kid by friday”. I actually have it but haven’t gotten to it yet! It’s not from a Christian perspective but I’ve heard parents with older children rave about the techniques

  8. Momof6 2 years ago

    My 6 kids were always respectful, until now. One of my sons is now 16, and all of a sudden, if I tell him no about anything, he badgers me constantly–trying to wear me down or make me give in. I have told him No means No, no questions, no argument. The last 3 or 4 times I have told him no about something (pertains to a girl), he gets bent out of shape, begins threatening to run away, talks about how “messed up” he is inside–how he is “cutting” and contemplating suicide. Last night was another battle. When he packed his bag, I told him I would phone his father and he could go stay with him, or if he walked out the door, I would call the sheriff’s office, or he could calm himself and stay right where he is–his choice. But I am not changing my stance on my answer to him–no is no. He stayed, but his father is going to be visiting with him today, and he has agreed with me that I should not back down. Now to see if attitudes change. His rebellion is being watched by the younger siblings, and the older siblings aren’t very happy about it.

    • Author

      Sounds like a complicated situation but, remember, at 16, he’s becoming a man – a process many unwise parents try to suppress (not saying that’s what’s happening here but, keep it in mind). We must not treat our older, maturing children as we do our adolescents. Manhood, independence, and maturity is a process to be shepherded and embraced. For some further thoughts, consider this article:

    • CASS 2 years ago

      It sounds like you are ignoring a very serious cry for help, if he says he is already cutting. If it’s a threat,that he will if he doesn’t get what he wants, then stand your ground. Maybe he wants you to just let go a little and give him a little leeway? I’m not saying let him do everything he wants, but while you are his parent, his protector, you need to let him make his own decisions and not to CONTROL his life.Maybe he’s defiant because you don’t trust him . Sounds like your son is asking for help.

  9. Jana Davila 2 years ago

    Have you ever tried reasoning with a 2 or even 4 yr old? I have 8, and 6 of them listened and did what I asked of them. Baby #6 came along and then #7 and those 2 refuse to listen to me until I have lost my temper and yell or a little swat on the bottom and then it still isn’t going the way it should. They will scream at me, tell me no jump up and down screaming etc etc. From breakfast to bedtime, its a battle. I pray to God to give me patience and strength, but feel I am still failing miserably. I wish it were as easy as you make it sound here. But I have learned from my “humility child” that God gave me, things are not always easy. :/

  10. Michelle 2 years ago

    How would you ever know that you are the cause of your child’s defiance? I don’t even think I would know what to look for in myself.

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      Being unjust, prideful, hypocritical, harsh, and selfish, for starters . . .

      • Michelle 2 years ago

        Gotcha. I was thinking more about specific actions, not general traits. Makes more sense to my little head now. Thanks!

  11. Christina 2 years ago

    I 100% agree with this article. My biggest struggle is knowing how to correct the disrespectful behaviour. What is the best way to address the disrespect? For example, my 13yr old cutting me off while talking, ignoring what he’s asked to do etc

    • Tara 2 years ago

      I would love to know as well. Could you please share some specific examples of how to put this into practice-what to say to our children?

      Great article! We are just starting to venture into disrespectful attitudes from our young children. My husband and I were just joking about this the other day, noting that we miss the physical exhaustion that comes from sleepless nights…this “big kid” attitude is mentally exhausting;)

      • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

        Keep posted . . . I’ll invite you to a webinar for parents . . . coming soon!

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      Keep posted . . . I’ll invite you to a webinar for parents . . . coming soon!

  12. Beyond Frustrated 2 years ago

    I agree 100% with this article, however I would venture to say my husband would not. He doesn’t see disrespect the same at all. But my preteens disrespect to me her stepmom is rolling onto the younger kids and he doesn’t see that. I don’t know what else to do after 7 yrs… He has started to have group discussions with us about it, but never follows through with any action to correct it… ?

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      Sorry in advance for copying the same response I gave to another reader but, it does seem apropos –

      Don’t give up! Find a godly, biblical couple to lead you into a proper relationship with each other . . . that’s the core of what I hear in your frustration – the two of you aren’t “one” in this matter of discipling your children. An outside perspective can be refreshing and enlightening.

  13. Frustrated 2 years ago

    For me the biggest hindrance to disciplining my kids is my wife. She has some personal anxiety issues and “can’t take it” when I am trying to discipline the kids and they are acting out. So… The kids end up getting their own way just to keep things peaceful and prevent my wife from having a meltdown. Makes me feel like giving up… 🙁

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      Don’t give up! Find a godly, biblical couple to lead you into a proper relationship with each other . . . that’s the core of what I hear in your frustration – the two of you aren’t “one” in this matter of discipling your children. An outside perspective can be refreshing and enlightening.

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