Ten commandments and religion aside, this notion that children are forever expected to morally obligate themselves into showing unparalleled reverence for their parents, biological or otherwise, is a dogma that fuels the plague that is generational trauma.
Of course, there are parents in the world who are deserving of high respect and great esteem from their children because they have earned the respect of their children. Yes, I said earn.
No human is deserving of automatic respect without reason; respect is to be earned — there are no exceptions. This is why the concept of humility is problematic to our human psyches, and in turn, to our human culture and society; each human is equal to another, including parents and their children. See my article on why we should stop using the word humble.
To be clear, the Oxford English Dictionary definition of respect is: “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
I want to underscore in this definition: “elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
The abilities and qualities parents have used to achieve the nurturing and rearing of a kind and capable human being to positively contribute to the world is worthy of respect from their child/children. And yet, truly nurturing, loving parents worthy of respect are rare. ACE scores, which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, are traumatic events that occur in childhood (ages 0–17 years). The CDC provides the following examples:
- experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
- witnessing violence in the home or community
- having a family member attempt or die by suicide
The CDC continues:
Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
- substance misuse
- mental health problems
- instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison
ACEs are a major detriment to mental and physical health and are associated with mental illness, chronic disease, and other health issues, as well as substance abuse in adulthood. And ACE scores currently exist at alarmingly high rates. According to the CDC, “About 61% of adults surveyed across 25 states reported that they had experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs.”
The good news: ACEs are preventable with genuinely nurturing parenting. And part of genuinely nurturing parenting is the revocation of parents not expecting their children to respect them out of the womb, simply because that’s what’s been expected traditionally and historically before humans evolved into more emotionally intelligent animals.
You see, as children, as products of our parents’ individual and unified choice to have and raise a child, we did not choose to be here, we did not choose our life — our existence is the result of our parents’ personal agendas. Therefore, there is no obligatory need to respect
The truth about parenthood is that as the child, your parents work for you!
Parents have made the conscious decision to have and raise a child/children. They have chosen to devote their lives to the unmatched and single greatest sacrificial responsibility of nurturing and raising a physically healthy, emotionally stable, compassionate, skilled, and loving human life that will positively contribute to our global society of human beings on our shared planet. Truly, parenting is a monumental undertaking requiring the utmost patience, empathy, and dedication — it’s a sacrifice I am not willing to make, as I want to have the luxury to design my life with full autonomy.
With all that said, because parents are morally (and socially) responsible for keeping their children alive until they’re 18 and for working to provide their children with the practical and beneficial knowledge to successfully navigate human life in this world, yes — they do indeed work for you.
Children didn’t choose to be here. Parents chose to create a life that involved having and raising a child. And in turn, they chose to create an additional life, one for this new human — you! And if I, a human who was brought here by force of two humans who wanted to bring another human onto this earth, am told by my parents: “don’t talk back to me!” or by someone else saying, “don’t talk to your parents that way!”, you can best believe I will respond with a graceful and kind: “Why? What have you/they done to earn my respect?”
In Glennon Doyle’s incredible memoir, Untamed, she boldly and proudly states that there is no one she respects more than her youngest daughter, Tish. Tish is still a child. And to hear a parent, a mother, exclaim those words of such genuine and deep admiration and respect for her child because she has and continues to abundantly learn from her fellow human that she happened to create, that gives me solace in knowing that we humans are truly progressing.
Ready to honor yourself first? It starts with self-advocacy. Take the leap by enrolling in my new course called Becoming a Highly Sensitive Radical, tailored for HSPs & Trauma Survivors who are ready to harness their sensitive superpowers and begin advocating for themselves and others.