“They say that blood is thicker than water. Maybe that’s why we battle our own with more energy and gusto than we would ever expend on strangers.” (David Assael)
Most parents I know — if they are being honest — will admit that they often treat total strangers with more dignity and respect than they do their own children. We’ll snap at our kids but respond with gentleness at work or in the grocery store.
It makes perfect sense. We have much more invested in the behavior of our children. When the neighbor’s kid tells you your food looks gross, you don’t take it quite so personally. You may correct him, but you’ll probably do it matter-of-factly (then laugh at his impertinence later). If your little angel did the same thing, you’d better believe he’d hear about it from you — in a not-so-ScreamFree sort of way!
We jump on our kids because they should know better. We’ve taught them good manners, and, when they choose not to use them, it can feel like a slap in the face.
Obviously, rude manners and bad behavior should be addressed, but those lessons will be learned even more effectively if we can just rise above our natural inclination to take things so personally. Instead, try to think of your darling child as your nephew or a neighbor…or even one of those interns at work you’ve been assigned to mentor. If your child was your apprentice, you’d teach him respect by extending a little of it on your side — at least at first. Mentor and model. You might be amazed at how far that will take you.