The Fine Line between Banter and Disrespect
I have three adult children, three teens, and two that are just entering puberty.
Communication between all of us has always been very open, very honest, and very casual. Sometimes it is casual to the point that other people think that there is a huge lack of respect – and nothing could be further from the truth.
Sometimes I think that our relationship is almost too open. There are things that I know about their lives and thoughts that I might prefer to be in the dark about sometimes. Then there are the conversations I have with their friends…
It is the banter that seems to bother people the most – and when I say people I mean those who tend to feel children should be very respectful verbally and keep boundaries between mom and kid.
My dad was not one to honor boundaries or conventions that he thought were ridiculous and this was one. He was always there for me, always available for me to talk to about anything, and always ready to listen without judging or fixing.
That’s not to say he didn’t correct or discipline me. He did when it was necessary but I tried very hard to make him proud because he was so very supportive of everything I did.
I get my ideas about communication from my dad. Yes, I am one of those moms. I believe in being a mentor and a friend. Yes, I will discipline when I need to – just ask the kids. More often though, I let the consequences be the disciplinarian and I step in as the listener.
If I ask them to do something, I expect that it will be done, and done well. The thing is, if there is a little back and forth banter about how it is going to get done, or when it is going to get done I take that in stride. I am more of a show me kind of person anyway – talk is cheap.
There is nothing that bothers me more than a family where the kids are outwardly very respectful but when the parents aren’t around they are wild things. I prefer the whole what you see is what you get kind of kid.
Here’s the thing. At the end of the day my kids do what I expect of them. If I am working tons of overtime to finish an assignment, they pitch in and help with dinner, with cleaning, and they bring me coffee, cokes, or snacks to keep me going.
The other night I had worked straight through the day from about eight in the morning and it was late at night. I hadn’t stopped to eat – I practically hadn’t stopped to go to the bathroom. My son, the bantering king, walked into my bedroom carrying a bag from the local burger joint.
That is the kind of respect that I believe in. That is the kind of respect that is real and solid. I don’t mind that they don’t say yes m’am or yes sir – I am totally confident that they respect me by what they do. Words? Well, they are only worth the air they float around on.
Again, talk is cheap.
What is your definition of respect?