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Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

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Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

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respect

Jennifer Lehr Jennifer Lehr child advocate. breath taker. ketchup hero.

Jennifer Lehr is a mom, author, child advocate, and a student of unconditional parenting. [www.goodjobandotherthings.com]

jennifer_lehr_feature

Treating people with respect, really taking the time to listen to what they say, to acknowledge them and be open to their point of view without putting our own thinking on theirs, is really hard. It can be a struggle.

It seems particularly hard to respect children. That’s probably because most of us weren’t respected as children. Over and over in the course of everyday life, if children are treated as though their point of view doesn’t matter, it becomes harder and harder for them to speak up about their opinions.

“Have one more bite of protein.” “But I’m full.” … “Put on a sweater.” “But I’m already warm enough.”

Because my needs weren’t met as a child, I became more aware of when other people’s needs weren’t being met. I’ve always been hyper aware of cues others miss. If I’m at a restaurant and the people at the table next to me want more ketchup, but can’t get the waiter’s attention and don’t feel they can speak up, it drives me crazy. I want to help people who don’t feel they can speak up in a respectful way and get themselves some ketchup.

The other day at a preschool I was talking to a mother who didn’t like the idea they had for the fall festival. I didn’t like it either and said, “Oh, God, that’s awful! We’ve got to do something about that!” She said, “I thought the same thing, but decided I’d just roll with it.” That would not be my response in a situation like that!

In a situation where I don’t feel I’m being as respectful as I could be, what helps me recover is pausing. I try to pause, take a breath, and think about what I’m about to say or do. If I’ve already said something negative, I apologize for it and clear the air.

I’ve become better at letting it go if someone treats me with disrespect. I’m better at not taking it so personally, and being more compassionate about where they may be coming from. In many ways, I’m not easily hurt and I don’t much care what people think of me. If I feel good about myself and what I think, then if my point of view upsets someone, I don’t take it personally.

I encourage people to speak up. Everyone’s opinion is valuable. One person is not more valuable than another.

Talk about what you really think and feel. It’s important.

– Jennifer Lehr

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