Should a Parent Feel Offended by Young Children? Why?

As Christian parents, with all the scriptural backup to our parental authority, we can feel the pressure to make sure our kids are obedient, reacting too sternly, or in frustration or anger. This is an example of how parents can start the Family Crazy Cycle by overreacting to kids just being kids. Our rigidity and negativity are perceived as unloving to our children, who then feel unfairly judged, and now we have entered the Family Crazy Cycle.

Once you admit to yourself, “Yes, I am feeling disrespected,” then you can ask, “Should I feel disrespected?”

This is a crucial question that you should not answer without thinking it through. A parent must guard against taking offense against a child who has no disrespectful intentions. Irresponsibility is not the same as disrespect. Granted, I will not deny that irresponsible actions can feel disrespectful. For example, you instruct your child to be careful with his milk cup, but somehow his little elbow knocks his cup over. It is a critical moment. You may feel disrespected. Why can’t your child be more careful? But this is the right moment to repeat an old saying: “Don’t cry over spilled milk!” Yes, the child made a mess, but kids will be kids. Irresponsible at times, yes, but do not confuse this with disrespect.

– Emerson Eggerichs, PhD

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