How to Show Your Son Respect

One of my most popular posts of all time – the one that brings the most traffic to my blog – was one I wrote the second month that my blog was live. It’s called Don’t Treat Your Husband Like a Child, and it’s all about respecting your husband and avoiding the little ways we undermine the respect our husbands are to receive from us unconditionally.

…and I know I haven’t written a marriage post in a long time (but I haven’t written in a long time period. I am averaging about 20 minutes per day to myself which I’ve been using to read the Word)… so here is another mommy post – sorry!

But I read (and pinnedthis post on the Resurgence about respecting your sons, and it got me thinking about the little ways that I undermine the respect I can show to my not-quite-3 year old.

Now you might be thinking things like

Um… he IS a child, so isn’t it OK to treat him like one?

You’re not called to respect your son per se – you’re called to respect your husband.

And you’re right, but I still think it’s important for our sons to know what Godly respect looks like. For several reasons:

  • Boys/men yearn for respect, and they seek it out in all avenues of their life. I want my son to see what true respect looks like rather than a worldly, perverted form of it (e.g., always winning an argument because you have instilled fear in someone or belittle them, etc.)
  • Most likely, our sons will one day marry. If we teach them now what true respect looks like, they will be better equipped to choose a Godly wife who will respect them – which aids their daily choice to love their wife – which dramatically improves their marriage – which is one of God’s primary tools to show Himself to the world!
  • Also, most likely, our sons will have children. I want them to respect their children, not exasperate them or bully them. I want them to be a man worthy of respect.
  • Our sons, Lord willing, will be men who call other men to Jesus. They need to do that in a way that also respect other men in a Godly way. How will they know how to do this if we don’t show them what it looks like?
  • I want my son to respect and honor my husband, who is the only hero he knows since he’s not a Christ-follower.

I could go on. Respect is an important intangible that our boys need to see modeled.

The primary way your son will learn respect is in how you treat your husband and other male leaders in your life.

Yup. It hurts. Let the hurt lead you to action.

Beyond that, how do you respect your son? A child? One who needs much discipline?

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about and experiencing:

Let the consequences come.

My little guy is a busy one. And he’s almost 3. Which means (hopefully) that he’s in the stage of his life where he will need the most discipline – especially for the little things.

Lately, I noticed that when I told Samuel not to do something, I would then force that action. For example, I would say, “Don’t touch that,” while removing his hand from whatever it was.

That is not respect.

It’s been really hard, but unless he or someone else is in some danger, I have been restraining myself, providing the order, and letting him choose whether or not he wants to obey. He might be choosing punishment or some other pain (a broken item maybe), but he gets to make the choice. I have been surprised since doing this how he has increasingly made better choices.

This also comes into play in education, moms. If your son is doing homework, I don’t think it’s wise to go back and correct every mistake. Perhaps help him correct a couple and advise him which problems to re-work based on those corrections. Beyond that, it’s OK to let him get some bad grades. He earned them, not you. And you should be proud and honor that he does his own work. I have been practicing this idea when helping Samuel play educational games on the computer. I will tell him to “Try it.” (And you can’t just say that on the ones he is going to get wrong. They are pretty good at figuring out what you mean.)

Apologize to him as you would have him apologize to you.

If you have wronged your boy in some way, don’t say, “I’m sorry, BUT…” or simply ignore your offense. Look him in the eye, with true emotion, and tell him “I’m sorry that I … It was wrong for mommy to… Do you forgive me? I will now try to … ”

I started going down the slippery slope of ignoring my own sin against him. Bad idea, moms. That’s not respect.

Vocalize your respect.

Boys need to see respect, but they also need to hear it. When you are talking to him – about him – use words like proud, strong, Godly, honorable.

These are just a few ideas I’ve been trying and thinking about. I would love to hear how you would add to this? Could you comment below with more suggestions for me?

6 thoughts on “How to Show Your Son Respect

  1. Michele

    Great article! I have 3 sons. Ages 11, 10, and almost 5. We homeschool so they are with me ALL…THE…..TIME. 🙂

    I have been learning respect for my husband but never thought about it for my sons. One of the most difficult things to balance is to allow them to be risk-takers but still protect them. How do I respect them? They wouldn’t have made it to their 5th birthdays on their own! Lol

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Thanks Jane! Life is insane! I have a feeling this is my new normal for awhile. 🙂

  2. Dawn Newark

    Stephanie, Firstly, I would like to commend you on your mothering! I have a hard time finding mom’s like myself who are not afraid to let children LEARN from their own mistakes. That being said, (and you aren’t here yet, but some of your readers may be) I have assigned each of my children (including my 13 yr old Austin) a chore every day after school. I find that this helps them stay out of trouble, but it also teaches them the value of hard work, respect for when someone else does the work, gratefulness for when Mom does it, and they learn lifelong skills that will most definitely come in handy. I remember a day when my then 10 yr old Austin said “I’m a boy, so I don’t have to do housework”, I explained to him that someday, he will grow up and be a husband and father and my want to help his wife one day. Of course, he didn’t get it, but I’m hoping someday he will! Also, recently, we have started to let him cook a meal a week (this is difficult and better for kids his age), this will also lend him some life skills and respect as well as gratefulness to whomever decides to cook for him in the future! Hope my sharing helps! And as always, so proud to have such a wonderful Mommy and beautiful person as my neice!!!
    Dawn Newark

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Oh Austin – that little turkey! I bet you almost laughed! That’s awesome about having one chore as soon as they get home and helping cook a meal. I love it! Good for you!

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