Every day, in the news, a new headline appears detailing yet another disturbing accusation. A consistent stream of sexual harassment or assault accusations are surfacing, and people continue to try to understand why we live in a culture of so much disrespect. The scenario has made many people, parents in particular, ask themselves how this type of offensive behavior can be avoided. In the media, there’s been a lot of discussion about how appalling sexual harassment is, but there’s not been enough discussion about how to prevent it. Contributing to the overall problem is an absence of moral virtue and a denial of human nature. A society filled with people who believe they can customize their morality to their personal preferences will always result in a culture of abuse, bullying, and disrespect.
As this issue pertains to the world of parenting, many parents have asked themselves, “How can I teach my children, especially my boys, to respect others and prevent them from harassing others?” Among the many pointers that could be offered about this, here’s the best way to teach this virtue: model it in your home.
Children do more than observe their parents. Children imitate their parents’ behavior and embrace their parents’ values. They watch how dad treats mom, and they listen to the way mom talks about dad. They observe empathy when mom and dad work to encourage each other with their words. They learn how to love when they watch the way mom and dad respond to each other, even in times of disagreement. They learn the value of both genders when they watch mom and dad work together as a team. They learn consideration when they watch mom and dad extend kindness to one another.
When boys watch how dad esteems mom with the highest level of respect possible, they develop a respect for the female gender. When girls observe how mom values dad rather than dismissing him as unimportant, they understand the value of the male gender. When dad prioritizes his family higher than his personal interests, children will begin to associate maleness with responsibility. When mom demands respect from her children rather than permitting rudeness, children will learn that disrespect is inappropriate with females.
Of course, parents need to have discussions at times to train their children, and correction will be needed at times as well. But discussion by itself will never compensate for a poor example. It takes good and loving role models to teach kids how to respect and love others.