I know that my spouse loves me, but he and our children don't respect me. I am getting fed up with the disrespectful way they treat me. I ask them to treat me differently, but nothing really changes. My children make fun of me (in a teasing way) but it makes me feel bad. Telling them to stop isn’t working. Is there anything else I can do?
There are a few things you can do to earn their respect, but you must first figure out why this is happening.
Here are some possible reasons for this behavior:
1) You treat them with disrespect
Do you treat your family in a kind respectful way? Do you honor their thoughts and feelings? Do you listen to them? Do you validate their ideas and opinions? Respect is something that must be earned. If you want someone to respect you, you must first respect them.
2) You don’t express your love for them
If your spouse doesn’t feel loved or safe with you, this can cause him to lose respect for you as a person. Respect and love go together. Do you express your love physically and verbally to your spouse?
3) You have self-esteem issues
This is a critical one. If you don’t respect yourself, believe in yourself and accurately value who you are, no one else will, either. If you doubt your decisions, worry too much about what others think of you and generally put your needs last, this could be the reason.
4) Your spouse has self-esteem issues
If your spouse or children have self-esteem issues (which most people do) they may be over-compensating for their fears by making fun of you or putting you down. This, unfortunately, is a common tendency. Are they picking on you so they can feel powerful or superior? This ego-based, bully behavior should not be tolerated.
Things you can do to earn more respect:
1) Treat your family with respect.
Make sure you ask questions and listen to how others think and feel. Make sure you honor and respect your family members' right to think and feel the way they do. You must honor their free agency and let them make their own choices (as much as possible). Don’t try to control them. Don’t use force, coercion or threats. Encourage them and point out the goodness in their character often. People respect people who treat them right.
2) Express love for them with confidence.
Look for ways to show your family members you love them (but don’t just say the words). Take the golden rule a little further and determine your husband and children's love languages. Make sure you love them the way they want to be loved, not the way you want to be loved. Give, love and edify them (from a place of strength and confidence) and they will respect you. If you give, serve and love them (from a place of fear) because you need their approval, they won’t respect you. This kind of giving is about getting what you need, it is not about them.
3) Work on your self-esteem.
Your spouse, children and friends are not responsible for giving you self-worth. You are.
You must learn to value yourself. You must honor and respect yourself and ask for what you want and need. No one else is going to take care of you if you don’t.
You must trust that you are good enough right now. People with good self-esteem have a strong sense of their place in the world. They understand who they are and why they are here. They trust that they are good enough right now. (If you struggle with this, a counselor or coach could help you change your thinking.)
Constantly work on improving yourself, growing and learning. People who are learning new things and developing their talents have a better sense of self-worth.
Speak your truth in a loving way. Stand up for yourself without being emotional or dramatic. Drama queens (who play the victim role and beg to be loved) do not earn anyone’s respect. You must handle yourself with confidence. You must keep your emotions and fears under control. You must not lose your temper or cry over small things. This is immature behavior.
Working on yourself is the most important thing you can do to improve your relationships.
4) Do not allow others to mistreat you.
You should not tolerate disrespect, mistreatment or abuse in any form. You must not allow others to ignore, threaten, make fun of, control or lie to you. This kind of behavior is unacceptable. You deserve to be respected and treated with kindness.
You deserve to be listened to and have your thoughts and feelings validated, even if others don’t agree with them. Your family members can also express their viewpoints, but they must do it in a way that doesn’t belittle you or anyone else.
You must handle these situations in a strong, mature, confident way. Remember, you are not at risk here. Even if they disrespect you, other people cannot diminish who you are. Your value is infinite and absolute. You have the same value regardless of what others think or say. When you remember this, you take away their power to hurt you.
When you feel bulletproof, you will handle these situations with much less fear and emotion. You should refuse to discuss anything unless spoken to with respect. You could physically remove yourself, therefore taking away their opportunity to disrespect you.
You can kindly ask people to treat you better and refuse to deal with them until they do.
Obviously this is not an easy fix, and it will take some practice — but you can do it. When you change how you feel about yourself and your behavior, people will treat you differently.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing confidence and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.