As a family counselor the most common complaint I hear from parents about their kids is disrespect. Bad attitudes, disobedience and talking back are among the typical behaviors that too often escalate into lying, stealing and verbal or physical aggression. Conventional wisdom seems to demand a harsh response with punishment and strict discipline to stem the tide.
While consequences for disrespectful behavior are certainly necessary, they can only be given after the fact and usually result in a stand-off, doing little to promote positive behavior before conflict begins. Parents are frequently at a loss for what to do about disrespect leading to a sense of discouragement and a loss of confidence.
When I talk to kids they tell me they also want to be respected and don’t feel their parents understand them. The truth of course is that we all want to be understood and given a chance to feel like our individuality is appreciated. It’s a universal dilemma that all family members face. How can we belong to a group and feel like a unique individual at the same time?
The answer may come from a surprising place.
A recent article about Nike reminded me of the mixed message that corporate branding relies on to sell their products. On the one hand they convince us that their products are special in the marketplace and focus enormous energy on differentiating themselves from their competition. On the other hand they persuade us to believe we must use their brand in order to belong to a particular group and gain social acceptance. It can be called the battle of Belonging vs. Differentiation.
Their methods rely heavily on clever design and consistent messaging and a dedication to a brand name that takes on a symbolic meaning, deeply influencing consumer behavior. What if a family, an organization of individuals who belong together, were to use the same strategies? Here are a few questions that might be worth asking:
How would you describe your family in a single sentence? What would your family logo look like? What is your family’s mission statement? What does your family produce? What does your family offer that your kids can’t get anywhere else? What does your family name mean?
Taking some time to create and promote your family brand can yield enormous positive results in establishing a home where everyone feels respected and is worth respecting for generations to come.
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