Modeling Mutuality & Equality


How can we expect children to understand and practice “Love thy neighbor as thyself” if we treat them with anything less?

The most common criticism I hear of young people these days is, "They don't treat anyone or anything with respect." The truth is that children learn respect or disrespect from how we treat them and how we treat each other.   Ironically, even Christian parents often try to teach children to be respectful by treating them disrespectfully. When children live with disrespect that is what they learn.  When they live without grace or love, the same principle applies.  We can teach these only by modeling them.
Children are born with human dignity as God’s image bearers; to treat a person with disrespect is to devalue that.  Unconditional love and respect from a parent communicates to children that despite their shortcomings, mistakes, misdeeds, or accidents they are still valued human beings.  Healthy, nurturing parents respect their children as human beings – interacting with their children by extending the same grace and consideration they would like for themselves.
Since children have long been treated as "less than," or even as possessions, many adults carry "narratives" of disrespect from their own childhood. Learning to treat children with respect, love and grace may require a change of heart and conscious effort.   Our first step may be accepting God’s grace and love ourselves.   


  1. This is of huge importance. So many problems that cause problems as adults, started as children.

  2. believer333,
    Yes, I very much agree. It is also a perfect example of the power and control of patriarchal practices, which remain strong in many families.

  3. While this is true, I also see what some would call being "respectful" as truly being "a response made out of fear". The respectful response does not come from a heart which is filled with respect for the one being addressed. It is respectful response which is given in response to a demand.

    Many children are programmed to respond respectfully -- even while their hearts hold no respect.

    This type of respectfully response - demanded or fear based - often turns to anger (rage) in the heart of the child.

    I want true respect from my children. I want a respect that issues out of their heart towards me.

    I agree you, for this to happen I must put respect for them in to receive true respect for me out.

  4. Very good point Dawn. Demanded respectful attitudes in the face of poor treatment is a struggle for a child to comprehend.


Many people don't grow up because true maturity isn't about marveling over one's powers. It is about becoming like Christ who came not to be served, but to serve.