The Character Movement

My Journey to Respect and Love

This blog post was written by Patty Beadle, School Relations Manager for Youth Frontiers. Patty has three grown children. In addition to working for YF, Patty is currently in grad school at the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

When my kids were young, I participated on a reflective retreat. As we discussed living intentionally, we were invited to sit down and write our own obituary. It was a really challenging exercise and I found myself reflecting on what kind of mom I was. Unfortunately, I had to admit to myself that I yelled at my kids a lot. The realization was eye-opening and convicting. That is NOT how I wanted my kids to remember me.

At the time, I had three little kids at home and my husband was gone a lot for work. It was stressful, but not any more so than millions of other American homes. I needed to make some changes if we were going to survive those early years so I embarked on a journey centered on respect and love. I started with small, everyday interactions.

For instance, one morning, I had to get my kids to the dentist for early appointments. They were ready to go, but had settled in front of the TV to watch one of their favorite cartoons. In order to make it to the dentist on time, we needed to leave before their show ended. In the past, I would rush into the living room at the last minute, turn off the TV, tell them to get their coats on and get in the car.

Their reaction and mine would be wrought with frustration and impatience. Instead of using my old tactics, I went into the living room and told my kids that we had to leave for the dentist in five minutes in order to make it there on time. I went on to tell them that I knew their show wouldn’t be over and that it would be disappointing to leave before it ended. I empathized, but explained that sometimes we have to sacrifice when we have commitments.

This respectful approach made all the difference. Yes, they were disappointed, but their disappointment was focused on missing their show and not on their frazzled mother. I discovered that by changing the way I spoke to my children and how I instructed my children, I could show them what it means to be respectful and loving.

Today, my three kids are all in their twenties and those early days seem, simultaneously, like yesterday and forever ago. My relationships with my kids are the most precious things in my life. I’ve found that I have very meaningful and purposeful relationships with each of them due to they way I worked to model respect and love.

What if you had to write your obituary? What would it say? More importantly, how can you incorporate this idea of respect and love in your relationships with your children?

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