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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Respect rut

Parents and kids find respect is a two-way street

Illustration by Jimmy Holder

I saw him patrolling the backyard, a topless 8-year-old with his chest puffed full. It was a sign that Ben, my only son and the middle kid of three, had cranked up his attitude to full-blast.

When the shirt comes off, Ben’s swagger tilts the vibe of our house—especially when he decides that it’s cool to talk back to mom. “Why should I do your dirty work?” he huffed one afternoon when I told him to unload the dishwasher.

The hammer of parental justice dropped swiftly. Goodbye computer, television and video games. Instead of loading discs into the Nintendo, Ben would be loading dishes into the Maytag for a long, long time.


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