Many adoptive parents discussed feeling disrespected by their child’s rude behavior. Some parents said in order to “love” their children they needed to no longer feel disrespected by them. We cannot control our kids or anyone for that matter (a lot of the times we wish we could), but they must make choices on whether or not to listen and obey us or to show us respect and kindness.
So, what can you do when your children are displaying disrespectful behavior? Perhaps their disrespectful behavior is choosing not to answer your questions or choosing not to use nice manners when you are doing nice things for them.
One thing I have found to help me from becoming mad or hurt is to speak for them the words I wish they had used. Getting mad or hurt usually only makes the situation–or the rest of the day–worse for everyone. Focusing on what I would have liked to hear them say changes my focus a little off the negative. AND it helps them to hear what they could/should have said instead of being disrespectful. You can often hear me talking to myself in my children’s presence saying, “Thank you, mom.” Or “I’m sorry I…”. I am speaking the words aloud that I wish they had said. I do this on such a regular basis that usually my kids will then repeat what I have said or something similar to thank you or I’m sorry. Yet there are times when kids do not choose to be respectful (maybe they are mad at you or someone else and you are getting the brunt of it, maybe they are too embarrassed to try to correct things, or maybe they do not agree with what you want them to say or do).
In speaking for them to myself, I can take comfort in knowing they heard what they should have done/said without me lecturing them about it. (Lecturing usually ends in eye rolls, tantrums, or not really listening, right?). And I too feel better just from hearing what should have been said versus what should not have been said or done. It might sound silly to talk to yourself as if you were your kids, but if you haven’t tried it please give it a try a few times to see if it might help you. Taking deep breaths, counting to five/ten, or clinching your fists and then releasing them are other tricks that have worked for parents.
Wisdom from Adoptive Families: Joys and Challenges in Older Child Adoption shares how real adoptive families struggled and how they were better able to manage some parenting challenges. There is also an entire chapter dedicated to the use of various coping skills.