The benefits of parenting with respect

By Anne Collier

When I read “6 parenting rules for raising a critical thinker” by parent, author and child advocate Marjie Knudsen – who I had the pleasure of meeting last fall at the International Bullying Prevention Association conference in Seattle – I loved the rules but at first thought the headline was a bit off, since there didn’t seem to be anything there about how to raise critical thinkers. Then I took a closer look at Rule No. 2 about respecting and understanding our children. “You’ll only get as much respect out of an adolescent that you give and model respect for,” Marjie writes in The Oregonian, referencing a blog post by parenting and life coach Nathan McTague. So how do we get from our respect to their critical thinking? Respecting them is an acknowledgment that, as they mature, “our children will be the ones who know best how to be themselves in the world,” McTague seems to be saying. “Can you think of a better way to encourage that self-knowledge than by respecting their early attempts at such?” I can’t. But I can think of important reasons for supporting that developing self-knowledge: It helps each child uncover and utilize his or her own moral compass, which enables the critical thinking that fuels resilience, protection, and success (we also have to help our kids take time for quiet independent thought!). I’ve written a lot about the importance of developing a culture of respect (for self, others, community) at school and how, as the experts say, that will help alleviate bullying and cyberbullying. Well, here’s the other shoe that needs to drop: developing a culture of respect at home. Thanks, Marjie!

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