Mutual Respect: More Important than Ever

I was leading a workshop at the California Head Start conference last winter and did one of my favorite activities, “The Two-Hand Push.” We use it in all the Active Parenting programs, because it does such a great job of teaching what usually happens when you try to push someone into doing what you want them to do: They push back. Whether the other person is a powerful child or another adult, the resistance comes from a feeling of being treated disrespectfully.

In a society based on the principle of equality, nobody wants to be treated like they don’t matter, or worse yet, like they matter only as a problem to be fixed, or at least silenced. That’s why teaching our children the importance of respecting others, and expecting others to respect them, is a cornerstone of Active Parenting.

While in California, I had a chance to meet with some people who embody this lesson, a group of parent educators at the Human Services Association in Huntington Park. Led by the inspiring Dr. Rosie Ramos, they have adopted Active Parenting: First Five Years for their family engagement program. Dr. Ramos’s own story of growing up in East Los Angeles, overcoming so much hurtful disrespect (and outright prejudice) in her early schooling, eventually earning a Ph.D. and taking a leadership role herself, makes her a great example of the resilience of some children. It has also imbued her and her staff with heightened awareness of the importance of treating all children, and all adults, with mutual respect.

Maybe if we parenting educators continue to bring this message to parents, it will not only filter its way down to their children, but also filter up to our nation’s leaders.

As always, thank you for the work you do for all children.

Dr. Michael Popkin
Founder and President
Active Parenting Publishers