The Definition of Respect ~ Do Disrespectful People deserve to be Respected?



psychological abuse
poster by Judy Baxter ~ quote by Darlene Ouimet

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………

A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.

Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.

When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives.  All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.

It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that they were right and I was wrong because I had never known anything different and I didn’t know what the real definition of respect was.

People are quick to tell us that we ‘should respect’ our parents. Our parents tell us that they should be respected. One time when I was in my thirties my mother referenced the bible to me saying “what happened to that bible verse that says ‘honour thy mother and thy father’?” This was her way of dictating to me that if I went against anything she wanted or whatever she said, that I was being disrespectful. But is that the truth? Is not doing what someone else wants or not agreeing with what they say the same as being disrespectful? Is standing up for yourself and your human rights a display of disrespect?

I get a lot of comments in this website about respect that communicate that most of us have accepted a false definition of the word respect when it comes to whoever we believe is in a position of authority or power oin our lives.

So what is respect?

Based on the following definition of respect, do you think that abusive controlling or manipulative parents should be automatically respected?

Do you think that parents who neglect their children or do not protect them from danger, or teach/communicate to them that whatever they are upset about or any wrong done to them, is something they brought on themselves?

  1. 1.    re·spect/ri?spekt/


A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.



Admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Have you ever used or do you use the above definition of respect as a guideline to understanding what you are being accused of when you were being called “disrespectful”?

I did a search on respect your parents and what I ran across made me angry. Here is one of the top search results for my query;

“One of the “golden rules” that is usually taught in society is to respect your parents (as well as your elders). Although you may not like them, or what they do, you should always have respect for them. Think about it: they have to put up with you too on a daily basis! Everyone knows that sometimes they are hard to be around, but your parents love you and just want to raise you to be the best that you can be. The least you can do for them is to show them respect, which means listening when they are talking, not talking down to them, and not raising you voice to them, among many other things.”  

This is the kind of teaching I run into all the time. What the heck does this even mean? There are no “unless they are abusing you” parts to this teaching. This teaching assumes that the parents have the best interests of the child in mind. But what about when they DON’T. In this website we are usually talking about when they don’t have the adult child or the young child’s best interests in mind at all.

And another thing to consider; by this definition of respect in the above quote, what about when parents don’t listen to their children? What about when parents talk down to their children? What about when parents raise their voices to their children? Parents always seem to be exempt from these directives!

Children learn what is modeled to them by the adults in their lives. They learn from the people who have power in their lives. Children learn by example and the only way to teach respect is to BE respectful.

In the case of most of the people who read Emerging from Broken, the people who have been in power and authority in our lives, have misused their power. Do they still deserve respect?

Unless they acknowledge their disrespect and stop misusing their power, I don’t think so. I think that people who ARE respectful deserve to be respected. Respect is not an automatic or a ‘given’. Respect is earned by actions based in the true definition of love.

Please share your thoughts! I made huge leaps forward when I saw these word definitions through the grid of the truth about them verses the false ways that I had been taught about them. As always you privacy is important. Please feel free to use any name you wish in the comment form. Only the name you use will be seen by others so if you don’t want your real name or your last name published, don’t use it. Your email address will always be private.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


 For related posts please see the Mother Daughter Category, Father Daughter Category and the Family Category.

138 response to "The Definition of Respect ~ Do Disrespectful People deserve to be Respected?"

  1. By: Karen Mackay Posted: 21st May

    Another thing that really bothers me is that I do not feel things like liking, loving etc and do not understand why people want relationships although I am not able to look after myself and have always relied heavily on others to look after me. It really,really bothers me. Just realised, feelings were not allowed at home, we had to be ‘nice’. Could this have anything to do with my weirdness.

  2. By: Karen Mackay Posted: 21st May

    I have just found your site and I am so glad (and sad) that i am not alone. It seems so many people have had lives like mine and I am not some sort of alien. However, I am also having to realise that I have taken on the bullying, manipulative ways I suffered from, sometimes enjoy that power feeling and so feel completely defeated in my hopes of feeling better about myself and having a ‘me’ and a life worth living. What do I do now?

  3. By: Kris Posted: 16th February

    Hi Everyone,

    I think respect is earned by how you treat other people. You get what you give. I don’t respect either one of my parents because they did absolutely nothing to deserve it and in fact they did just the opposite. They abused me. I would be a fool to respect either one of them because it would mean that I am volunteering for more of their abuse.

    Do I talk down to them… no. Do I do to them what they did to me… no but that doesn’t have anything to do with me being or not being respectful. It has to do with me valuing and respecting my self enough to know that they don’t deserve to get my respect because they choose not to do anything in order to get it because they do not value me.

    This really does get confusing when you are someone that was abused. It takes a long time to sort through all of this junk to finally see the truth. I get what Amanda was talking about in her post but I think Tundra Woman hit the nail right on the head.

  4. By: Tundra Woman Posted: 16th February

    Let’s be very clear: This is a site dealing with individuals who have been subject to abuse and neglect not only in childhood, but into adult life by the very people whose primary responsibility was the care and protection of their children, the most vulnerable of humans. Abusive parents do not cultivate respect, they DEMAND “respect.” However, their concept of “respect” is an Authoritarian blind acceptance of their behavior simply by virtue of their status as post-partum and/or donation of sperm. Giving birth does not make one a “mother;” it’s what occurs AFTER the birth that renders one a mother/father.
    False Equivalencies are common rationalizations among abusive parents: “Think about it-they have to put up on a daily basis with you too.” A child engages in child behavior because they ARE children. An adolescent engages in adolescent behavior because they ARE adolescents. Same with young adults. A parent is *suppose to be* an adult. Suggesting their normal Age and Stage behavior isn’t “respectful” when in fact it IS simply normal kid behavior thereby justifies the demand for “respect” because they’re doing this behavior AT ME, not because they’re normal kids. Disproportionate responses, those in which the punishment does not fit the crime is a common response of all abusers to perceived threats to their position of Authority. It’s all about Power and Control for abusers, not “respect.” Would you suggest an adult in a domestic violence shelter “respect” their abuser? Hang around the abuser and “model” respectful behavior so their abuser will mimic the same? Would you be willing to stake your very life on that speculation? How is a domestic abuser partner entitled to an exemption by their title of “spouse” any different than another domestic abuser adult entitled to an exemption by virtue of their title “parent?” Or does DNA confer absolution of all behaviors by a parent? Is there a blanket exemption in any event because “family?” This is what a Diane Downs would assert. How is an abusive parent’s behavior any less criminal? Because they didn’t get caught? Because the child was bullied or terrified into silence or the parent was covering for the paycheck their partner contributes to the household?

    Respect is earned. Kids don’t respect abusers any more than adults do. The decision to walk away from a parent(s) is not about “respect.” It’s about a consistent pattern of behavior in which the parent contines to engage that is anything but respectful, but rather a blatant demand for Control and Domination simply by their title. Their belief in their supremacy is eternal and unwavering regardless of the offspring’s age-30, 60 yrs. old-doesn’t matter to an abuser. Just because I say “I am a good parent” doesn’t make me one. As Mark Twain observed, “…the louder he professed his honesty, the faster we counted our spoons.” How successful have the efforts at rehabilitating life long adult abusers been even when attempted by Professionals? How successful have Professionals been at identifying abusive/neglectful parents? Not very. Why? Because abusers know if they abuse in public rather than in private, they might get caught. Anytime you have to hide what you’re doing behind closed doors, you KNOW what you’re doing is WRONG.

    The statement “…we are at risk of behaving like the very monsters we are trying to break free from..” This is not about “respect,” it’s about a demand for surrendering one’s personal autonomy, a fear tactic and a rationalization for continued enabling. Further, if this assertion was valid, how is it that so many abused individuals do NOT abuse or neglect their own children? “Your parents love you and just want to raise you to be the best you can be.” No, they do not “love” their offspring; if they did, abuse and neglect would not occur. They are not raising their children “to be the best you can be.” To the extent they “raise” their children, abusive parents demand the child be what the PARENT demands, not who the children are as unique human beings in their own right. Once again, the child serves the needs of the parent instead of the other way around: Abusive/ Neglectful parents consistently engage in behavior that is exactly ass-backwards. They have no clue who their children are-despite their consistent assertions they know their children better than the children know themselves-nor are they interested in learning. Any attempt by the offspring to demonstrate autonomy is immediately reactively punished. A constant wail from these parents when the AC walks away/NC is “whhyyyyyyy?” Well, if you know your children oh so well, how is it you didn’t predict they would NC? Why did you not see that coming? After multiple efforts on the AC’s part to address the relationship with the parent-and getting spoken over, dismissed, cut off, flat out denying the parent’s own behavior etc.-in fact, engaging in all the behaviors you suggest (which are neither original nor productive) the only option left is NC.
    Whether you stay or leave, you will be negatively portrayed. If you feel the need to demonstrate you’re not who they say you are, this fundamentally reflects a statement about you, your enmeshment and your own need to presume such inevitably will result in a positive assessment of your Presentation of Self. And frankly, hubris. You don’t control what other people think or believe. Doesn’t matter what you “model,” or what your accomplishments: They-and you-will consistently be spun negatively. However, if your concern is demonstrating some kind of Moral Transcendence towards abuse, something of a “Lady Bountiful” abuse/neglect style by continuing to subject yourself to such and de facto enabling the behavior, the cost and transparency of your behavior needs to be examined against the reality of how this meets YOUR needs particularly in fragile self concept, the inherent limits of behavioral “persuasion” to other enabling bystanders and denial of a painful and threatening Reality.
    The issue is not “respect:” It is a rationalization of on-going abuse reconfigured as some bastardized definition of “I deserve it because I demand it.” Abusers do not identify themselves as such-ever-unless it may be used as a manipulation in sentencing for their criminal convictions. And like any other criminal, their greatest fear is not their behavior but “getting caught.” Equally as threatening to the abuser is the victim’s possessing the moral and ethical conviction to call the behavior what it is without rancor, excuse or minimization. Frankly, it is this behavior that demonstrates genuine Transcendence, Character and Respect-for reality and Truth despite all it’s ugliness.

  5. By: Amanda Posted: 15th February

    It’s interesting reading everyone’s points of view on this hot topic. Lots of questions posed and ideas.

    I feel I want to disagree Darlene, I feel parents, in fact everyone should be shown respect, most especially by us. When I read the defenitions, my interpretation isn’t so much the quality of the parents character, more the description of the actions comprising of respect. My interpretation is calm tone of voice, polite words, allowing the other person to speak without interrupting, allowing and acknowledgeing the other person and their point of view, avoiding rudeness.

    The reason I feel we should show them respect is because if we fail to uphold the simplest of common courtesy we are at risk of behaving like the very monsters we are trying to break free from. We don’t have to agree with their demands/ideas or follow their instructions, but we can respectfully disagree and maintain our dignity. If they choose to act in a manner less than respectful, one day it will be habit for them and they will behave like that in other circles, making a less than appealing impression. We run that risk too, so to maintain our higher standards for how we behave, I feel we all need to treat everyone with those same respectful behaviours. It also makes it harder for our parents to portray us as crazy, the black sheep, dishonest, a disappointment or disrespectful if all the outside world ever sees of our behaviour is complete respect all the time. It would be hard for a parent to sell us as disrespectful when those they are trying to convince see us being respectful to those same parents trying to discredit us.

    I’d love to know what everyone else thinks ?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th February

      Hi Amanda
      I agree that everyone deserves respect.
      And as for upholding the simplest of common courtesy, why do you think I am suggesting otherwise?

      This article perhaps has the wrong title; It was not my intention to suggest that disrespectful people deserve to be disrespected. It is my intention to shed light on the truth about the relationship itself.

      I was never disrespectful to my parents. I simply finally stopped consenting to the way that I was treated by drawing a boundary. They didn’t like it but I didn’t like the way that I was treated either. No matter what I did my mother portrayed me as “the problem” so that she could rest assured that she WASN’T perceived as the problem. She started discrediting me when I was a child.

      I think you may have the definition of respect a little bit skewed.

      Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Stephanie Posted: 15th February

    In my mothers home her counnselor say she dosent have to show me respect although she admits I go buy her rules she says this when she disrespects me “my house, my rules” and that I have to respect her because God says ” honour and obey your parent I told her God says do not provoke your children to anger and she says well yout no longer a child when a pastor said because we’re still Gods children and the bible period says do not provoke a person to anger that they might sin it dosent count other than having to leave I had her read about the part of mothers and families disrespect adult children prior to child hoid I have an 8 yr old and she over uses teach her by example to rwspect when by definition I do she says this when I disagree with what she wants?????? How should I handle this

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th February

      Hi Stephanie,
      Did your mothers counsellor say that to you?? (because that is bizarre; respect has to do with HOW you treat people and it goes both ways.)
      As for honour your parents, take a look at what honour is. And then take a look at the mutuality of honour.

      As for your own child and what your mother suggests ~ Did your mother teach you respect by example? Giving someone what they want isn’t respect, it is compliance. Compliance can be very unhealthy.

      There are lots more articles here that discuss the actual definition of LOVE which is what we are actually talking about. 🙂 You might find more insights through those. 🙂
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Angie Long Posted: 13th June

    Hi Darlene,
    What a profound article. I needed to read this and not feel guilty. I’m honored to have stumbled onto your website.
    My mom and I argue a lot. She’s one to use the quote….the bible says “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.” In her eyes I’m disrespectful even at my age. I’m reminded periodically what she’s done for me. She’s been very gracious.
    My father is mentally ill and declining. Life revolved around his moods. To say he was mildly controlling is like saying it never rains in Florida. :/ I lived in fear growing up.
    I was a strong-willed child, disobeyed and an only spoiled child with a stay at home mother who didn’t drive. I feel like an onion at times. Pick a layer and find the pain. Parenting…wishy-washy!!! My father quit work while I was in high school. My mom had only worked part-time my last year of high school. However, she started working pt and went full-time at the church we attended (just mom & me) My mom despises that I remember the bad….I remember good things, too.
    But,I’ll never forget the day I got married. My father never said I looked pretty. Why? And you want me to respect my parents? How? Even if I didn’t it’s my day and he should have told me I looked beautiful.
    However, he did tell me during the father/daughter dance “Don’t have any children.”(what kind of message does this send your daughter?) I did take his advice about children and I divorced very quickly. Respect? I’ve asked myself numerous times why? I do have compassion for him because he’s not stable. (It has taken me many years.) My mother adapted to this life-style. In my eyes she’s always been a doormat. Her church is her outlet. She’s much better mentally than him but he’s still in control of her life in other ways and areas.
    Our mother-daughter relationship meanders. Fair and good in the present. I’ve always wished for it to be better but I accept what it has become the older I’ve gotten. I don’t live where I grew up and she often brings that to my attention. I ran away. I had to leave.
    After my separation from my husband I had been living with my parents. I was a flight attendant and stayed away. I wasn’t in a good place because of the divorce. She wasn’t available to me. During this time my mother worked. Money and keeping my father at peace was her only focus. We never did anything and she was tired mentally, physically and emotionally. He drained her.
    There was no us. She was under financial pressure and I hated him for what he was doing to my mother. But, she believed he would change. Still? I was 31 then. I cannot give respect just to give it. It reminds me how I grew up and every night before I went to bed we said with cheek kisses “Good night & I love you. Really? I didn’t feel love….just lost.
    Respect. Just this morning I got from my mother that I don’t respect her. If she only knew.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th June

      Hi Angie
      Welcome to EFB ~ glad you are here. The way that society talks about respect isn’t actually about respect, it’s about control and entitlement. I had to do a lot of work on finding out the real meaning of respect in the process of healing. I had been SO brainwashed to think respect was doing what they wanted. I think you are going to enjoy reading here.
      Hugs, Darlene

      • By: Tiffany Posted: 31st July

        I am a 35 year old woman who is about to become a mother in 2 months. My mother an I do not always see eye to eye on things. Growing up, my mom was verbally abusive to me. She would tell me that I am nothing, I’m a P.O.S. and will never be anything. I am not sure why she talks to me the way she does, but it is not right. What mother in their right mind tells their child that. Just earlier today while my mother and I were in the store shopping, she didn’t like the response I gave to her question. She automatically snapped and started to walk away. I left it alone because I didn’t want to get into it with her. A few mins later I asked her a question and she didn’t answer me. She just shrugged her shoulders with her back to me. Asked her to please not give me that response, and she lost it. She started yelling and cursing at me in the middle of the store like I was 2yrs old. I was embarrassed, so I had to walk away. When we got outside and in the car, I asked her to please not talk to me like that because I am not a child. She tells me that I’m a piece of sh** and a loser. I’m guessing she has a lot of things bottled up inside, but Me as an adult and a woman will not stand to be disrespected even by my mother. We both do not have any respect for one another and it only gets worse every day. She lives with me, so you can only imagine how it is on a daily basis. I don’t have the relationship I would like with my mother because it’s very hard. At times I think I’m wrong for being disrespectful and my family tells me that I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. Respect is earned not just given. I’m at a point where I don’t know what to do.

      • By: Mom03 Posted: 27th September

        It really offended me to read this as a parent and a child. My 18 yr old stepdaughter quoted pieces of this article to me after I told her that as long as she’s living with me and I’m taking care of her as the sole provider in the family I expect her to treat me with respect. Now I have taken care of and supported her since she was 4! Me,not her bio mom who’s a drug addict who lost parental rights 10 years ago or even her father. I’ve always supported her, emotionally financially and ever other way there is while she has continually yelled at me, lied ABOUT me to anyone who will listen saying I starved her, beat her,threw her out when she was 13..and these are such RIDICULOUS allegations that have NO basis. We’ve actually had family services investigate due to the utter bullshit she’s made up which resulted in mandated counseling FOR HER! Now she’s 18 and actually told me it’s my Job to take care of her and she wont respect me as respect is earned. Like ALWAYS being there for her when she just needed a hug or advice or when she wanted a $600 prom dress I bought her when I was making $800 a month. And I have 2 other kids. 2 son’s who see everything she she does,one of which was 8 when she was 16 and she choked while I was at work because he interrupted a phone call! Despite everything she’s done I’ve never given up on her and jabbed always loved her. We argue and disagree but I have raised her and done my absolute best to be a good mom to her and sacrificed for her probably more than my biological sons. Only for her to now as an ADULT sit in my home,where I ALONE pay all the bills the groceries,everything she acts entitled to while telling me she’s not going to respect me or even TREAT me with respect because its earned. Well wtf have I been doing the last 14 yrs if not earning respect! I don’t think respect should automatically be given because of who you are but what you’ve done and continue took do. I continue to provide her with food shelter clothes etc. Etc. And I get told I don’t deserve her respect. She trashes the house nevermind helping out with anything she won’t even pick up after herself or flush a damn toilet! She compared me getting upset and raising my voice to her because she came in at 2am blasting music in her car on a school night while my boys were sleeping to abuse! And abusers don’t deserve respect. I get what you’re trying to day here but your giving young adults and teenagers an excuse to be disrespectful and a platform to go off of. Unless a parent is abusing you,if they have taken care of you and put your needs above their own your entire life and continue to once you become an adult….that not only deserves respect, it DEMANDS IT! It’s not ok for that child no matter how old (18 in this case) to tell you they won’t respect you as its earned and “you don’t respect them ” well do something worthy of respect and I will. In the meantime you have an obligation after ALL I’ve done your ENTIRE LIFE to at least TREAT ME WITH RESPECT. They’re are 2 sides you every coin. Taking care of your child their whole life id enough to earn respect,unless you do something to lose it. And you should at least Treat the person providing for you eith respect,whether you actually do respect them or not

        • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th September

          Dear Mom3
          Did you read this article? I hope you will read it again. Listen to what I am writing about. I am not giving ANYONE an excuse to be disrespectful.

          Of course there are two sides to every story and there is only ONE truth. If what this girl is saying about you IS NOT the truth, then it is not the truth. I am not empowering people to make up stories. I certainly don’t agree that any person living in a household has the ‘right’ to wake everyone up blaring music in the middle of the night.

          Where is her father? Why don’t you have any assistance with this situation?

          You wrote some things that make me wonder ~ You say that you deserve respect because you took care of her? It doesn’t really work that way; again read my article. You are saying here that she should respect you simply because you have provided for her. (and you use the expression “after all I have done for you”… this is an obligation expression. Think about the actual definition of respect. Your example of buying her a 600.00 dress, when you only made 800.00 per month; why would you do that? You also said that you will respect her when she does something worthy of respect. Has anyone taught her what respect is because by what you have written there is a misunderstanding on both sides.

          It sounds like you could both use some assistance with this situation. You mention that you have 2 other children; they ARE watching and they are learning how relationship works. (or doesn’t work) and is sounds like it isn’t working at all. I really hope that you can get some help with this for the sake of everyone involved including yourself.

          Hugs, Darlene

      • By: Mom03 Posted: 4th October

        No “disrespect” to the people here who’ve had traumatizing experiences with their parents throughout their life but if we’re REALLY going by the DEFINITION of respect I feel it is my responsibility to point out to kids (teens) looking for an excuse to disrespect their parents the word RESPECT has more than one definition:”TO ACT IN A WAY THAT SHOWS YOU ARE AWARE OF SOMEONES WISHES (RIGHTS;ETC)//
        “TO TREAT OR DEAL WITH SOMETHING THAT IS GOOD OR VALUABLE IN THE PROPER WAY….These are also definitions of respect listed directly with the one listed above in the dictionary. Picking and choosing what you want out of what a word means is not the actual meaning of it. PARENT/RESPECT are synonyms in any car other than abuse…and raising your voice or taking privileges away does not equal abuse. I swear I somehow come across this site almost every day yet never see anyone who is a parent talk about how uplifting this is. Im blown away that ONE PERSON’s opinion is being used as a platform to be disrespectful to your parents…instead of villainizing your parents for all their faults think of all the ways they’ve been there for you, and that just because they’re people who make mistakes like EVERYONE else doesn’t make it acceptable for you to treat them in a disrespectful manner…again unless they have LEGITIMATELY abused you your whole life…

        • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th October

          Honestly I think you are on the wrong website. Of course these definitions of respect are just as valid. I don’t see your point? We are talking about mutual respect here.

          To answer the questions you asked me when you replied to the comment instead of coming to this blog to post it (so it didn’t get published because it wasn’t actually here it was in the admin email)

          ~ YES I am a parent. I have 3 grown children and have wonderful relationships with all three of them. I am also an award winning author, a very well known speaker on emotional healing and I have been interviewed all over the world on this subject. I don’t empower disrespect in any form. If my kids came home and disrespected me or my home I would not accept it. You have misunderstood the intention of everything that is going on here.

          To answer your comment here today, at least 60% of this readership (Of hundreds of thousands of people) are parents. I wish you would read a bit more of what is actually going on in this website before you post your judgements in this way.

          And if it makes you feel any better, this isn’t actually a popular blog for teenagers.


  8. By: Jocelyn Posted: 20th April

    I love this article, specifically since I just got into an arguement with my aunt. She would always say negative things about my dad and when I defend myself she would mock me but my mom would never stand up for me as she would call me disrespectful. I feel so conflicted as to whether or not I should defend the people I care about or just let her get away with bad mouthing my dad.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th April

      Hi Jocelyn
      Welcome to EF ~ thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Laura Toth Posted: 5th April

    This posting is so helpful to me right now. My biological father has recently excused all acts of name-calling, claiming that they are justifiable because I did not give him due respect. I was simply standing up for myself. The definition in the dictionary is so different from the one I was given, where authoritative figures are supposed to automatically be respected. Something deep within me said that’s not right, but now I have the logic to back it up. Thank you.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th April

      Hi Laura,
      Welcome to EFB ! ~ It’s mind blowing when we realize the actual meaning of certain words vs. the way we were taught the meaning of those words! There are not two separate definitions of respect. 🙂
      hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Cori Rice Posted: 5th February

    It’s funny how we won’t put up with disrespect from a boss, co-worker, spouse or neighbor. But when it’s our parents being nasty to us, we act like slaves and hesitate to stand up to them. I blame tradition and culture because it condones parents and brainwash us into thinking they have the right to do what they want and we have no right to complain. The Devil has twisted the 5th commandment to keep people in bondage.

  11. By: Madison Posted: 23rd January

    I entirely agree with you. The problem is, my parents never will. 🙁

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th January

      Hi Madison,
      Yes, and it’s a good thing that my recovery doesn’t depend on my parents ever understanding this. 🙂
      hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Tina Posted: 31st March

    I am 47 years old and still being upset by my abusive parents. They leave every year for 6-8 months during the winter and returned Monday (we live only a few miles apart). I started shaking uncontrollably when they texted they were home. My husband told them we didn’t want them coming over. That I cannot keep being hurt.

    I was physically, verbally and emotionally abused by my father as a child while my mother (who tells everyone else in the world how to run their lives) stood by and watched or got the same. I left home at 15 and have excluded them from my life at various times and then let them back in. 9 years ago, at 10 pm I was playing the piano, my husband and 4 sons were in bed, my parents as usual had come over and parked themselves at my house for hours-surfing the computer, reading and my mom was on her phone alot. My father left the house to go see my brother who was housesitting just down the street. My father came back screaming, You F#$%ING b(*&^h, you are so stupid, you told me the wrong house. Everyone hates you, no one knows why your husband stays with you, you’re such a blah blah blah, he came at me with a raised fist. I pulled a huge lamp out of the wall to defend myself – the whole time my mother is screaming for my father to calm down. I told them to get out. The next day they came back, my father apologized, I said no, I”m done. I said I am not going to be scared at my age, I had to be scared when I was a kid but my children are not going to be like I was and wake in the middle of the night to yelling. He said well you were being loud playing the piano. WHat a dumbass. I told him go get some anger management classes, go get on some medication. I’m not putting up with this or you anymore. BUT, BUT what about the wonderful vacations they took me on when I was a kid those were great times, right? (wonderful vacations? are you kidding me? – there was always a scene at a restaurant because he is the ultimate cheapskate, ALWAYS road rage, fights.) So this is where I’m supposed to forgive AGAIN? There have been so many incidents of abuse, intimidation. After this scene, friends of my mother’s came to my house and told me I had to forgive him. These people saw my mother with bruises from him before, knew he beat us kids and they think now that I’m an adult I need to keep this up? Oh what if he dies they said…oh well, I’m ok with that. I DON’T DESERVE TO BE ABUSED BY THEM ANYMORE. I kept them away for a few years. THen let them back in, my mother then goes to my restaurant and proceeds to tell my employees (dear friends) in front of customers what a bad daughter I am, she wishes we were closer, she can’t figure out what’s wrong with me..Last May, I went on my computer that my mother had been on the night before, on the screen was an emailing she had written to someone I barely know saying she felt so sorry for my 4 kids that they had to have me for a mother, I opened another email to someone else – my “wonderful” daughter called today to tell me about a cruise she went on. She liked it, I Couldn’t believe it she’s such a f*&^ing B&^%h, she doesn’t like anything, I read one email after another of what a terrible person I am. I went on my email and put in mom and searched. I found not one reference to me saying anything bad about her, I did find the letter I wrote her after she trashed me at my restaurant 5 years ago asking her to please stop badmouthing me, esp. at my business or I was going to have to cut her out of my life again. I guess that didn’t matter.

    Just as an aside…My parents talking to me like I am such a loser is interesting because I do alot for people, I coach, I volunteer, My mother’s mother (My Gram)is 98 and lives on her own, I am the one who does the most for her – takes her to dr appts, make her food, clean, spend time with her and my mom’s 71 year old mentally retarded sister (my Aunt) lives in a group home – I am the ONLY one in our family that takes her out to eat, to the movies, has her stay with me and even though I do all this I’m no good – I own a successful business, sold another business last year that I started from the ground up and own several houses, I have never asked my parents for one thing. I started college after my junior year of hs because since I was 15 I lived with friends because of the abuse and put myself through college. I am so sick of trying to figure out why they hate me. It just hurts so bad that my own mother says she feels sorry that my children have me for a mother. WHy didn’t she feel sorry for me and my brothers? My children have never been punched, hit, kicked, dragged by their hair or constantly scared like we were. I feel like they have robbed me of being a happy person because I am so depressed and sad that my life has been this way.

  13. By: Kate Posted: 6th December

    In regards to respecting your parents, you can treat them with respect but set boundaries with them and not allow them to abuse you. Basic respect means to treat someone with human dignity , acknowledging their worth as a human being. You can respect someone for their work and admire them for their qualities. But one can also respect others, no matter who they are, as a human being and afford them their basic dignity. For example, a nurse may have to take care of a murderer wounded by police. She doesn’t like him, like his behavior or admire him in any way. But she still must display basic dignity and respect for him as a human being. She is not allowed to hit him, curse him, etc. When she speaks to him, she uses salutations such as Mr. SoandSo. She uses words like please and thank you when delivering his care. She is obligated to care for him as she would any other “worthy” patient even though she is repulsed by what he has done. It does not indicate you agree with them. You are not an animal. You respect and recognize the worth of all life but don’t like the behavior . You won’t have a deeper conversation. But you won’t be abusive just because they are abusive people.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th December

      Welcome to all the new people on this post!

      Kate, I treat my parents with respect, but since they do not respect me, my boundary is no contact. There is no obligation in the act of love. A nurse is paid to do her job which is a whole different thing. It is love for me to refuse to let my mother treat me like crap. It is love for both her and I.
      thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Kate Posted: 6th December

    As the holidays approach the issue of disrespect from my family members takes center stage as I have to interact with many of them that I am able to keep at arm’s length throughout the year.
    You hit the nail on the head with this article. I have also gone through a period of healing and these truths, the learned false definitions of key words and relational tools, is at the center of much of the hurt and confusion I have endured. You are spot on. I would add that people have a false understanding of the purpose of the family and why God created the family for us. Many , who behave perfectly well to others in society, such as neighbors, friends and co- workers, behave with great disrespect and abuse toward family members. There is a belief that the purpose of family is to be your dumping ground for all the negative emotions and behaviors society will not accept from you. In my family the mantra was
    “home is where you can express yourself however you want and your family still loves you”. That’s a nice concept but horribly misinterpreted by my parents. It actually does not mean that you can be disrespectful, rude , hurtful, vile, contemptuous, engage in name calling, and assault others because that’s what you’re feeling that day. And your family has to take it because we’re family. But that is what it meant in my family. As adults, the power struggles and disrespect continue, at least for my siblings, and the roles created and determined in childhood, are the expectation. My role was to shut up and do as I am told , defer to others and know that I have no value , no voice and no worth. My existence was to do for them. Even at 50 years old, living a separate life from them, they still revert back to these behaviors and interaction styles whenever we are together. They sometimes pick up the phone and attempt to engage these ” coping mechanisms” whenever they are stressed and looking for a way out of whatever problem they have created in their own lives. One of my roles to my family was to clean up their messes. They are too busy and their time too valuable. But mine, of course, is not. It was just understood that they would pass unpleasant problems they had on to me to deal with for them and it was a norm from childhood. As adults it continued. If they had a problem they don’t want to deal with they would try to “delegate it” to me. When I began , years ago, saying no to them and setting boundaries … let’s just say it did not go over well. I am not the most popular person in my family. And I am okay with that.
    As an adult, a professional and parent of grown children, I am baffled each time my adult siblings ( and my parents before they passed) would continue to interact with such disrespect, disregard and inconsideration toward their adult siblings/ children/ family. My parents have passed but it’s as if my parent’s way of viewing the world was the only way and my siblings have not , can not and will not even entertain that there is a better way to behave and interact .They feel entitled to these “roles of power”.
    In terms of respecting them, I continue to behave respectfully toward them as I would any person. I ignore and do not react to their behaviors any more. I speak respectfully , in a respectful tone. That may mean saying , in a respectful tone, ” I’m sorry but it’s not okay for you to speak to me like that. I’m not going to continue this conversation with you because you are being very disrespectful”. And then hang up. It does not mean never standing up for yourself or setting boundaries. Just do it respectfully. You can tell someone that something is none of their business in a respectful way. No name calling, no contempt, no accusation, no belittling, no devaluing. You can behave respectfully towards someone but not agree with them or condone their behavior. Name the behavior, state why it is not okay, state that you love them but this behavior/ interaction is not okay with you and state consequences. I have done this many times in my family. We have morphed to a “pleasant ” relationship. Not close as before , but “close as before” was actually “enmeshment”, which is a totally unhealthy dance. Better to replace it with cordial pleasantries and an uncomfortable hug at the family barbeque than the phone calls that involve name calling and demands of hoop jumping.
    I mourn not having a close family but it is what it is. We’re all over 50. If someone hasn’t figured out respect by now, they likely never will.
    Family is not just blood relatives. Family are people who truly love and care for you, treat you as though you have value to them and you matter.
    Preserve your own mental health. Choose limited interaction with those you must interact with and choose to spend quality time with those who are reciprocal in respect , love, kindness and courtesy. We can’t pick our family…well, actually we can. We can pick friends who become like ( better than ) our family. Spend your time there and be cordial but at arm’s length to the one’s that choose to not see the truth.

  15. By: laura Posted: 4th December

    The power position also implies responsability.But some parents are abusers instead of being responsible adults.So what’s to respect here?Very good definitions of the word ‘respect’.But what about the definition of the word ‘parent’ compared to the word ‘abuser’?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th December

      Hi Anon24759
      This article and this website is not specific to parents but rather to people who do not treat others with the respect and equal value that they expect to be treated with themselves.
      Thank you for sharing your story!
      hugs, Darlene

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