1. Parenting
Send to a Friend via Email

Parenting Tip #10: Modeling Respect for Authority

By February 25, 2008

Follow me on:

Showing respect for authority is an important value your teen will need to learn. It will help him/her traverse his/her adult life without getting into snafus with the law or simply with his/her boss at work. A principal way you can accomplish this task is by modeling respect for others, here are a few examples:

  • Using your manners by saying please and thank you to those around you like the cashier at the grocery store or your teenís teacher when he she calls when he/she calls.
  • Discussing your differences of opinion with our nationís leaders in a way that isnít bashing them personally.
  • Not reacting negatively to a person in authority when being treated unfairly, say by a boss. Remaining calm taking time and thinking through your options before reacting. This is showing him/her how to make good choices.
  • Putting the big picture into perspective out loud so your teen can hear it. For example, "I donít think that official made the right call, but Iím glad I donít have to make those difficult decisions."

These simple ways of modeling your respect for those in authority will help your teen learn to respect authority, a key part of becoming a happy and successful adult.

Do you have any examples of modeling respect for authority? Have you had a talk with your teen about respecting teachers, sports officials, etc? Tell us your thoughts in our comments area.

More Parenting Tips for Busy Parents of Teens

February 26, 2008 at 2:57 am
(1) Nancy says:

My daughter who is 16 years of age did something that I was not prepared for. One night she took our car out driving while I was at work. She does not have her license, but she does have her permit. I found out because I came home from work early. I had a talk with her that evening and gave her punishment. Then the following night, she had a guy friend over and things got carried away and she had sex. I did not know all of this of course until I pressed her for the information. The rules are no friends over at the house without adult supervision. Her punishment for taking the car is not getting her license until she is 18. Her punishment for having friends over and lying to me about it, no prom and no trip in November. Her cell cell phone is also taken away, no going out until we decide when we are ready. Do you think these punishments are too harsh?

February 26, 2008 at 3:05 pm
(2) Janice says:

Wow – sorry you are having to deal with all of that.

I would have handled it differently, I think. I understand the urge to lock everything up and take it all away, but it passes up an wonderful opportunity to have some “teaching” time instead. About the car, I think having to wait to get a license is okay (although two years is a little harsh in my book). But I would also make sure she really understood the dangers of what she did. Why do people have learners permits? What would have happened if the police had pulled her over? What would have happened if she were in an accident, even a minor fender-bender, and how would she have paid for the damage? Why did she take the car?

The sex is something I would have really questioned her about. Was she just bored and it “felt good”, is she upset because she wasn’t really emotionally prepared for it, how is it affecting her feelings about herself right now? Was it peer pressure? And then I would have taken her to get an HIV test as well as a pregnancy test, along with a very long talk about the risks of being sexually active.

You didn’t say how much conversation has been going on about her recent behavior. While locking them up and throwing away the key (so to speak) is a very natural instinct, we need to remember that we are teaching them to become responsible adults and eventually you will have to let her drive and she will leave home. What lessons do you want her to take with her when she goes?

February 27, 2008 at 1:21 pm
(3) sandra says:

I agree with Janice that the 2 years seems harsh, and I know how easy it is to fall into the “lock them up” trap.

I was recently surprised and pleased actually at my 14 YO son’s behavior. He’s a good kid, but doesn’t always make the best choices and has a temper that we are all working on learning to control and channel better :)

His band teacher got on him for goofing off (something that he and 2 friends of his I guess do quite a bit, but he is seen as the ring leader and so is the one punished, even according to others in the class). He very respectfully said, “Yes, Sir. Mr. D…the behavior will stop immediately.” He stopped it and the class went on.

Where I am proud of him is what happened when the teacher pulled him aside after class and told him that he was tired of him being a screw off, that if someone wasn’t listening, it was always him and had been since we’d moved to town 3 years ago, and that telling him “yes, sir” he might as well of been saying “f**k you” to the teacher.

I so was proud that my son did NOTHING to escalate this, even according to the teacher. He tried to calm the teacher down, and when that didn’t work, he heard him out, went to Basketball practice, and then came home and told us.

Needless to say, my husband and I spent the next morning in the principals’ office. The teacher was reprimanded and my son asked to be excused from the class for the rest of the year since he didn’t feel he could learn from someone that disrespected him as a person that much. I agreed. I wish there had been a solution that let my son stay in band, but the teacher has yet to man up enough to even apologize to my son for his behavior and it’s been over 2 months.

If I had known the teacher didn’t have the guts to take the responsibility for his behavior with the person he had most offended, I would have made it a requirement of his reprimand.

Sorry to ramble on… I was just so proud that my adolescent son who seems to get his back up about everything handled a conflict with authority SO RIGHT!!!

We as a family strongly emphasize taking responsibility for what you do and this teacher (and this school) constantly undermines our lessons.

June 28, 2008 at 10:45 pm
(4) rationalist says:

I don’t agree that “respect” for the fiction called “authority” is a desirable thing. Wasn’t this what led to the Nazis coming to power? I prefer a rational standard based upon respecting the natural rights of others (by not initiating force) and of being willing to consider suggestions from others. To accept the legitimacy of the actions of the gang of criminals that call themselves “government” when they are demanding money at the threat of violence (what is called by the euphemism of “taxation”), murdering people (such as the gang that styles itself the “United States of America” is doing in Iraq), or harassing people who make choices that do not violate the rights of others (such as drug users, prostitutes, “children” who choose not to attend school, patrons at art galleries that dance without a permit, gun owners, homeschoolers) is an absurdity. Crime is crime, regardless of whether the crime is committed by skilled private criminals or incompetent public criminals (commonly called “politicians” and “bureaucrats”).

November 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm
(5) Craig says:

Respect can be taught but I don’t believe that these things will teach respect. The problem with teaching “respect” for authority is that sometimes they do not deserve it. The majority of authority does not get their power by respecting people; (thus not deserving respect) they demand their power with fear which they confuse for respect.

I feel that the best thing to teach our youth is to teach them how to really respect themselves and others, which will help keep hem out of trouble with the law in the first place, and will also teach them to do the right things in life.

“Men are respectable only as they respect.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882 American Poet)

December 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm
(6) SJC says:

As someone who was a rebellious teen, I had an immediate reaction to the punishments listed. At the same time, I am now a parent of a teen and understand the desperation that accompanies decision in discipline.

First, the rebellious teen part – I faced many punishments like this from my father and my reaction was to rebel even more as I was determined that he would not control me. What he failed to see was that I was really crying out for help, but would never admit it following that path. As a result, the relationship with my father was damaged for years.

Now, as a parent of a teen, it is very scary to be on this side; to understand the risks associated with certain behaviors. Instead of focusing on only harsh punishments, what positive things can you incorporate into your daughter’s life so she will no longer feel the need to act out?

I have a site that focuses on building respect and you may find some of the information helpful – http://bringingbackrespect.blogspot.com/

If nothing else, look a little deeper into your daughter’s motives. Chances are – there is more to her choices than just wanting to make you mad.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.