No parent would disrespect her child on purpose, but sometimes we do so without knowing. Check out these three ways we unintentionally disrespect kids — and what to do instead.
Would you say you disrespect your kids? If you’re like me, you would assume no, of course not. I love my kids and would never disrespect them. I wouldn’t want others to do so, much less me.
3 ways we unintentionally disrespect kids
Except sometimes we disrespect our kids without even knowing it. We mean well and may not see how our words and actions affect them. We overlook the repercussions of our actions, thinking all is fun and jest when really it’s not. Or we just didn’t know any better.
1. You talk about your kids as if they weren’t there
“Don’t say ‘he’!” my preschooler told me and my husband.
We had no idea what he was talking about. “Who’s ‘he’?” I asked. But as just as I said it, I realized we’d been talking about him right in front of his face. Not only that, we were leaving him out of the conversation.
I already forgot what we’d been discussing. Probably an innocent conversation about what he ate that day. Whether he had pooped, or the activities he’d done.
Still, he noticed that not only was he excluded from the conversation, but he was the subject of one.
It’s easy to discuss kids in front of them as if they weren’t there, referring to them in the third person. From proud to funny moments, parents want and need to discuss these details with each other.
But talking about him as if he wasn’t there must be frustrating for him. Especially since he’s now aware he’s the subject of conversation.
So now we tell one another our notes and stories by including our kids in the conversation. “Remember what we did today? We went to the park and you climbed up the ladder all by yourself!”
Or, better yet, my husband and I wait until they’re in bed before we review the day. We avoid talking about our kids as if they weren’t there, and we can discuss freely.
2. You share private conversations between you and your child to others
My son and I were coming home when we saw our building manager down the hall. My kiddo then reminded me that our manager had fixed our toilet because it was broken.
So when we finally greeted our manager, I addressed my son, “What did you say again about Harold?” hoping he’d repeat himself in front of our manager. Instead, he just smiled a sheepish smile, clung onto me and kept his mouth shut, embarrassed.
We assume anything our kids say, especially if they’re cute or hilarious, is open for sharing. I can’t imagine doing that to another adult, but we do this time and again to our kids. We share the funny way they garbled their grammar or how your child had confided his fears of the dark. Or assume anything they say is share-worthy, regardless of how they feel.
My son didn’t intend his comment to reach any other person’s ears but mine. His comment may have been cute, but to him it was just a statement he didn’t want shared. Especially as a cute little novelty to show off.
3. You “spell” in front of your child
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Communicating discreetly with others isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve referred to our kids’ loveys as “L” when we couldn’t find them. All because saying the whole word would incite emotions we’d rather not deal with. Or spelled M-I-L-K knowing full well they have no idea what we’re talking about.
My intentions were innocent. I don’t want my kids reacting when they realize we’re washing their loveys in the laundry. I also want to discuss with my husband whether we should offer milk tonight without the kids finding out.
Still, I realized it can be condescending. We should and can be discreet given certain topics, but that’s the thing: we should be discreet about it. Spelling in front of our kids isn’t cutting it, and your kids will realize that sooner than later.
No way are these incidents the worst offenses to children. especially since we don’t even know we’re disrespecting them. But when you think about whether we would do the same to adults, the idea is comical. We forget they have emotions and notice the subtleties in our words.
I can’t say I have a perfect record with these offenses even after all these years, but I do my best. I try to be discreet when hiding information. And I honor our private conversations and don’t share them like they’re novelties. And I remember my kids should be part of the conversation, not the third-person subject of one.
Tell me in the comments: In what ways might you unintentionally disrespect kids without intending to?
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