|Ask Dr. Dobson
Question: You place great emphasis on instilling
respect during the development years. Why is that so important? Do you
just want adults to feel powerful and in control of these little people?
Answer: Certainly no. Respect is important for
several specific reasons. First, the child?s relationship with his
parents provides the basis for his attitude toward every other form of
authority he will encounter. It becomes the cornerstone for his later
outlook on school officials, law-enforcement officers, future employers
and the people with whom he will eventually live and work.
Teachers, for example, can tell very quickly when a
boy or girl has been allowed to be defiant at home because those attitudes
are brought straight into the classroom. Again, relationships at home are
the first and most important social encounters a youngster will have, and
the problems experienced there often carry over into adult life.
Second, if you want your child to accept your
values when she reaches her teen years, then you must be worthy of her
respect during her younger days. When a child can successfully defy your
authority during his first 15 years, laughing in your face and stubbornly
flouting your leadership, he develops a natural contempt for everything
you stand for.
Stupid old Mom and Dad! He thinks. I?ve got them
wound around my little finger. Sure they love me, but I really think they?re
afraid of me. A child may not utter these
words, but he feels them each time he wins the confrontation with his mom
Third, and related to the second, respect is
critical to the transmission of faith from one generation to the next. The
child who disdains his mother and father is less likely to emulate them on
the things that matter most. Why? Because young children typically
identify their parents, especially their fathers, with God. Therefore, if
Mom and Dad are not worthy of respect, then neither are their morals,
their country, or even their most deeply held convictions.