Parenting With Love and Respect: Lead by Example

dr tamecca and two of her sons on the albert einstein statue, for article on respectful parenting
Photo courtesy Dr. Tamecca Rogers

Imagine being on your own with a newborn baby. That’s how my parenting journey began. I was fresh out of high school, having just joined the U.S. Navy—with no family by my side to help. We all know what an enormous personal transformation it is to become a parent. Now, imagine being torn away from everything familiar. Your town, streets you walk on, people you meet each day. Being on your own in a new territory, with a new baby and your identity transformation underway, facing an immediate need to make your newborn, and later toddler, feel safe and guided. That’s what my life has been since becoming a parent.

Respect Goes Both Ways, and it Starts with You.

Whether you already have a child or are a teacher with hundreds of children, respect is a significant part of parenting. No matter how you define it, respect encompasses love, appreciation, compassion and gratitude for the other person. I was determined to raise my children to have manners and be respectful of other people, which is how I was raised.

How to Instill Respect by Modeling it

A parent’s first instinct when raising a child is to imitate how their elders treated them. While growing up, other adults demanded respect, and I was to be polite and mind my tone and speech around seniors. Beyond that, I was raised to make family members and teachers feel proud. As I got older and became more self-aware, I noticed that adults didn’t always reciprocate the same respect they commanded.

Some adults didn’t typically pay attention to how they spoke to children and didn’t show the same consideration for their feelings and sense of dignity they asked the children to show. I have witnessed this several times as a campus administrator. For example, I had to handle issues where the teacher was “joking around” with a student to the point the student was offended and felt disrespected.

What do you think happened as a result of the student feeling disrespected? What do you see happening when children feel put down? They act out. They rebel, and they reciprocate the same behavior. Sometimes they are even better at returning that unsavory conduct.

Can you blame them? Several adults emphasize equality and reciprocity in adult relationships yet expect children to accommodate them with the same respect in return. Reflecting on my upbringing, gaining experience with raising my children, and my experience throughout my educational career helped establish these principles of instilling respect by modeling:

#1: Mind Your Manners

My stepdad had a saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” that I didn’t appreciate. It meant I owed respect but couldn’t expect the same treatment. Needless to say, he wasn’t my stepdad for long, but it was the longest 12 months of my life.

The “Do as I say, not as I do” saying is what I witnessed several adults do throughout my childhood and professional career. For example, during a school staff meeting, adults will pull out their cell phones and text, check emails, get on social media, etc. The same adults will send their students to the office for texting during class. Why are some adults holding children to a higher standard than themselves? Ask yourself if you’re demonstrating the behaviors you want your children or students to learn. Modeling, by far, is the best way for them to learn.

#2: Watch Your Tone and Body Language

Some children become easily frightened by domineering adults who expand their arms while talking, speaking loudly and even condescendingly while they scold them. No one likes being put down, and rest assured, even toddlers recognize this demeaning attitude that adults show from time to time. Sometimes children tend to cope with feeling humiliated by getting confrontational to “save face.” Instead of scolding, ensure that your tone is mild but firm and decisive, and that your body language is supportive and understanding.

#3: Learn Your Child’s Love Language

Children express their need for bonding, love and support differently depending on their age. Yes, love languages are not just for adults. Everyone has a love language and ways they would like to communicate. I have three boys. And each one of their love languages is different. Therefore, I choose to bond with them by incorporating their love language to overcome challenges together. “Practice what you preach” when the child feels hurt or embarrassed. Apologize when you’re in the wrong and admit to being a flawed human who is capable of acknowledging a mistake.

#4: Foster Understanding by Using Your Child’s Love Language

Accept and appreciate the little ways in which your child expresses feelings. Sometimes, they’ll give you a huge hug and other times they’ll give you a head nod or fist bump. In the meantime, use your child’s love language when speaking to them. For example, my 11-year-old’s love language is words of affirmation. So, if I tell him, “Son, I am so proud of how you are studying on your own. You are super smart,” he will be on cloud nine for the rest of the day, strategizing how he will make time to study some more.

My middle child’s love language is quality time. So, if I set a particular time for us to talk one-on-one, he will talk my ear off, and I absolutely love it. While my oldest child’s love language is physical touch. I can’t give him enough hugs. I’m just glad that at the age of 26 he still wants his mom to hug him or to lie on her leg and watch a movie.


Instilling mutual respect is rooted in reciprocity, but its core origins lie in self-respect. Genuine self-respect is born out of healthy bonding, a balance of rights and responsibilities, and the courage to err and be forgiven.

Explore your child’s unique personality and demonstrate what a loving, respectful relationship looks like. This will not only teach your children good manners, it will help them nurture healthy relationships for life.

TameccarogersbiopicDr. Tamecca Rogers is Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Tulsa Technology Center. She is a writer and mom to three boys who love adventures.

Sept 2022 School Age Pin

Categories: Parenting