R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Carey Casey

"Dad’s Life" columnist Carey Casey speaks here on how we use our words in frustrating situations with our family members.

Dad's Life


This month in my “Dad’s Life” column in ParentLife, I wrote about sarcasm and how it can be hurtful even when we think it’s harmless. But sarcasm is just one of the dangerous ways we use words. To set a more positive tone, consider this from Proverbs 25: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold.”

So how do you choose words that are “fit to speak”?
It begins, I believe, with respect. First Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone.” And I’m told that the Greek word there for respect means prize, appreciate, and honor. We respect others by appreciating and honoring who they are.
That does not mean mocking our kids or using sarcasm, such as, “Aw, is the itty bitty teenager mad at the mean ol’ daddy?” Yelling is also an ineffective way to get your point across. And how often do we automatically use defensive words and phrases like “You never … ” or, “You always …” ?
For a better approach, one great place to start is to use your child’s first name when talking to him — or at least an endearing nickname. “Brian, would you please take out the trash?” “Sweetheart, I need your help for a minute.” That can help you start off with a calm voice and avoid yelling.
Respect means you deal with issues directly and responsibly, not with passive-aggressive behavior or innuendo. One approach goes like this: “When you do [this], I feel like [this].” So, you might say, “Brian, when you don’t do what I ask, it really gets frustrating to me. How can we work this out?” It might be hard to imagine, but we can all learn.
Another way to show respect in your speech is to be careful regarding what you say to others about your family members. A father’s words should defend the family, not tear it down.
One hard thing about respect is that we often don’t realize when we aren’t doing it well. So I challenge you to approach your children, and your bride, and ask, “Do you feel respected when I talk to you?” You’ll probably discover some insights that will help you be a better dad.


Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.


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