Respect is often a word our society uses but the concept that it is a two way feeling and action is possibly not well accepted yet.

Parents need to respect children as well as teaching children to respect them. Respect implies a positive acceptance of the personal integrity of all the individuals in an interaction.

Too often respect is viewed as a synonym for fear. Respect means that you take the other individuals needs, feelings and expectancies into consideration when interacting with them. Modifying our behavior, words, and emotional tone when dealing with other individuals can demonstrate our awareness of their equal worth as beings.

If we treat our child with disrespect we need not be surprised that they return the feeling, covertly or overtly. Disrespect creates distance. No one wants to get close to anyone that disrespects them unless they are masochistic.

Intimacy without mutual respect is impossible. Respect that does not include a willingness to understand the other person is superficial at best and a sham at worst. Children treated with disrespect cannot respect themselves and then sadly cannot engage in close relationships that are comfortably productive of warmth and adult level love.

Adult level love is very different than the love from young children. Young children may love you because they have biologically imprinted upon you, even if they do not like you. Children who have been abused by a parent may often be seen crying for that parent. They are very attached but the attachment by not being connected to mutual respect cannot grow into adult level love.

Respecting someone without loving them is quite possible but adult level love without respect is not possible.

Many individuals who cannot get close to other people may take part in a marriage or other seemingly close relationship, but the lack of respect allows them to keep the distance that they may need. Some people need the illusion of a relationship but actually not truly be ready ever, to engage in one. If relationships are seen as hurtful, even if that viewpoint is unconscious, a person may create a facsimile of a relationship because it gives them the illusion of being what they may imagine to be normal while actually helping them stay away from other humans.

False intimacy may be seen as a defense against expectancies of pain from human interactions. By continually picking other people who also cannot be close a person can give themselves a self-fulfilling negative experience that helps them to stay away from others while fooling themselves into thinking that they are trying.

Government that does not respect the welfare and needs of its citizens is not likely to be well respected by its citizens. Lack of respect from people or from institutions is likely to result in a distrust that precludes a pleasing sense of close interaction, and which prevents us from feeling comfortably satisfied.

Respect that is based on fear often only lasts until the disrespected people can gain sufficient strength to do without that which they fear.

Respect that can allow for love grows out of gentleness and kindness that allows people to want to freely and joyfully interact with each other.

Comprehending the underlying motivating emotions that prevent us from knowing how to engage with respectful individuals respectfully can sometimes be brought to fruition through the respectful care from an insightful and friendly psychotherapy.

We do not need to remain trapped in a pattern of sadness that a disrespectful parent who did not respect themselves unwittingly passed onto us.


 Dr. Lehrer, Psychologist
Associates in Psychotherapy, P.A.
(908) 654-3677
(908) 654-4118