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Mother and Son: The Respect Effect

Mother and Son: The Respect Effect

by Emerson Eggerichs
Mother and Son: The Respect Effect

Mother and Son: The Respect Effect

by Emerson Eggerichs


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From the New York Times best-selling author of Love & Respect comes the definitive book for mothers and sons. Love is important, but it is respect that is the key to your son’s heart.

Dads and their boys are often best buddies. But what's the key to a successful and healthy mother-son bond? Informed by relevant scripture and up-to-date psychological research, Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D., explores this foundational relationship to show how loving and respecting your little boy can help him grow into a mature, responsible, and godly man.

The idea of moms respecting their sons may sound strange to some. It's easy to recognize that little girls need dad’s love, but who is strongly promoting the truth that little boys (and big ones) need mom's respect?

In Mothers & Sons: The Respect Effect, readers will discover:

  • Why respect matters in a mother-son relationship
  • A method based on the testimonies of thousands of mothers
  • Specific responses that can be given instead of how you would “normally” respond
  • Practical applications, especially for parenting teen boys

Just as Emerson Eggerichs transformed millions of marital relationships with a biblical understanding of love and respect, you can apply these same principles to transform your relationship with your son.

Mother & Son is also available in Spanish, Madre e hijo.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780849948213
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 72,091
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Emerson Eggerichs, PhD, is an internationally known communication expert and author of the New York Times bestseller Love & Respect. Just as Dr. Eggerichs transformed millions of marital relationships with a biblical understanding of love and respect, he also turned these principles to one of the most important relationships of all in Mother & Son: The Respect Effect. As a communication expert, Emerson has also spoken to groups such as the NFL, NBA, PGA, US Navy SEALs and members of Congress. He was the senior pastor of Trinity Church in East Lansing, Michigan for almost twenty years. Emerson holds a PhD in child and family ecology from Michigan State University, a BA in Biblical Studies from Wheaton College, an MA in communications from Wheaton College Graduate School, and an MDiv from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He and his wife Sarah have been married since 1973 and have three adult children.

Read an Excerpt

Mother & Son

The Respect Effect

By Emerson Eggerichs

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2016 Emerson Eggerichs
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8499-4821-3


Why This Book?

A woman responds to love. The woman is in a girl. Therefore, a girl responds to love.

A man responds to respect. The man is in a boy. Therefore, a boy responds to respect.

The first syllogistic statement receives an affirming nod from every mother. For some, the second statement is a bit more difficult to grasp.

I often scratch my head in bewilderment over the lack of understanding of mothers about their precious baby boys. They love their sons more than they love their very lives, but they readily confess ignorance and confusion.

A mom wrote:

I have been really struggling with my nearly four-year-old son lately. Now I understand why every mother wants a daughter ... because we "get" them! When my sixteen-month-old daughter throws a fit about something, I know what angle to come from because I understand why she's upset. When my son does something, I'm like, "Why did he just do that?" Again!

Every mother recognizes the woman in the girl and her longing for love. In the movie Notting Hill (1999), Julia Roberts's character emotionally expresses, "I'm also just a girl ... standing in front of a boy ... asking him to love her." The feminine need and traits ring loud and clear to all women. For example, none miss the nurturing nature of women and little girls. All the research bears out the caregiving traits of the feminine soul, but who needs research to tell us this? We see it every day. No one is ever surprised when a little girl walks down the street with her baby doll, then stops to nurse it with a plastic bottle as she affectionately communicates her love. We observe the woman in the girl. We don't need research to educate us.

XX and XY Chromosomes

Yet as I talk to mothers and tell them there is a man in the boy, some respond with curiosity about who that man might be. Yes, they know their sons are "all boy." As one mother said, "He can be 'all boy' one second and the other the sweetest little thing ever." But note her negative contrast. The "all boy" is not sweet to her. These mothers admit they are a bit in the dark on God's virtuous design of testosterone, unlike the way they intuitively grasp the purity of estrogen. One mom quipped (about her son), "We love these kids, but Lord help us; if they don't have the same XX or XY chromosomes that we do, it can be like navigating a foreign country without a map."

To some moms the boy is an alien. But he is not from outer space. God created him male in his gender. When it comes to the boy, this book explains the attributes of the masculine soul. This book helps the mom hear a precious and endearing message: "I am just a boy, standing in front of his mother, asking her to respect him."

Both research and the Bible reveal the male's need for respect. This is a simple and revolutionary insight into the heart of a boy that we have overlooked — and shockingly so. This book is about a mother going beyond her love and applying respect to the heart of her son. But in addition to the research and the Scripture, every mom will begin to see for herself this need in her boy.

Do Not Beat Yourself Up

When you see his need for respect firsthand, you will find your love and compassion for your son providing you with the natural interest and energy to meet this need. So do not shame yourself. Please hear me. Relax. Do not beat yourself up as your mind races to those moments when you feel you may have failed. Some moms tend to torture themselves, then run to the hills to avoid this topic. But let your love motivate you to switch gears when this stuff about respect per se does not motivate you.

Let me say, I was unchurched growing up; so if you view yourself as secular or unchurched, please keep reading. Though I pastored for years, which enables me to bring the biblical perspective, I have a PhD in child and family ecology that enables me to highlight what we know about male behavior and what I have researched. In addition, I have collected hundreds and hundreds of e-mails from moms. You need to hear their testimonies. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your son.


As for the research, Shaunti Feldhahn has found that respect is extremely important to men. If men were forced to choose between feeling "alone and unloved in the world OR [feeling] inadequate and disrespected," 74 percent would rather give up love if they could keep respect, with just 26 percent saying they'd give up respect in order to be loved.

Men and boys are far more sensitive, vulnerable, and reactionary to feeling inadequate and disrespected. Sadly, some have profiled these sentiments as rooted in narcissism. But moms know their sons are not egotistical maniacs any more than their daughters are prima donnas for longing to be special, noticed, and loved. A prudent mom gives the benefit of the doubt to her boy. He is a man in the making.

Though we all need love and respect equally, there is a statistically significant gender difference. I asked seven thousand people, "When in a conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?" An overwhelming 83 percent of the men said disrespected, and 72 percent of the women said unloved. In other words, quite often during the same conflict, she filters his reaction as unloving and he interprets her reaction as disrespectful.

What Does a Boy Need?

Your son feels the same way. But did you know he feels this way?

During a conflict, if you do not filter the event as he does, you will miss the extent to which he feels disrespected. Because you do not intend to be disrespectful, you could dismiss his feelings. You might say, "He should know that I love him and am trying to help him be more loving. He needs to stop feeling disrespected." In like manner, I suppose it is okay for a dad to tell his daughter to stop feeling unloved.

As Louann Brizendine wrote in The Female Brain, "Males and females become reactive to different kinds of stress. ... Relationship conflict is what drives a teen girl's stress system wild. She needs to be liked and socially connected; a teen boy needs to be respected." Did you catch that? A teen boy needs to be respected.

When a mother and son get into a conflict — a very stressful event to both — the son feels far more disrespected than he feels unloved, and he craves respect more than love. But how many mothers detect this, and if they do, how many know what to say or do? Who has coached a mom to ask, "Is what I am about to say going to sound respectful or disrespectful to my son? "

Every mom needs to recognize and accept that her son filters the stress with her through the respect grid. He is not wrong for this, just different. In the same way, a daughter is not wrong, just different for wanting to be liked. A dad must not say to his daughter, "Quit worrying about being liked at school." The good news is that once mom sees this need in her boy, she can use this information with prudence. She need only say, "I am not trying to show you disrespect when I confront your misbehavior." Just using the word disrespect eases his stress.

The Crazy Cycle

If mothers do not use Respect-Talk like this, they spin on what I call the Crazy Cycle with their sons: without respect a son reacts without love, and without love a mother reacts without respect. This baby spins. Can you relate? Whatever the issue that first created heated fellowship between mother and son, it has now been relegated to second place. The root issue to the boy is the disrespect he feels, and the root issue to mom is the lack of love she feels, not to mention her feeling disrespected as the parent. It gets really crazy, really quick. He doesn't see his lack of love because he is feeling disrespected, and mom doesn't see her disrespect because she is feeling both unloved and disrespected.

To stop this craziness, every mom can use Respect-Talk. Though it is more than verbal and sounds abnormal at first, using the word respect is the starting point for a mother. To stop the crazy moments, she need only clarify, as I said above,

"Look, I am not using this topic as an opportunity to send you a message that I don't respect you. I am not trying to dishonor you.

I am seeking to address the issue at hand, okay? Let's take five minutes to calm down and revisit the matter respectfully."

This is the native tongue of a boy. He hears it loud and clear, then calms down.

Is this hard for a mom to do? No. A mother loves to use words and communicate. Research has found that women are expressive and responsive. What better way to commence than to learn a few vocabulary words of respect that energize, motivate, and influence the heart of a boy? What could be more thrilling to a mother than to speak words that soften the spirit of a son and trigger a desire in him to connect with her? She imagines this kind of relationship with her son but never seems to experience it as she hopes — not after age four for many moms.

As the mother said in the introduction, "It's like a little miracle — the connection and affection I longed to have with my son have finally come."

The Respect Effect

Respect-Talk ignites affection and endearment in a boy. Let me illustrate this between a father and a son to help you see this from another angle. A dad wrote:

One weekend a few months ago, we traveled as a family up to Prague. We had read your book prior to this trip and so some of the concepts were still fresh in my mind. I spent my weekend helping my brother-in-law build a tree house for his children and then we made a zip line. While my nephew was too frightened to be the first to try the new line, my son volunteered. After that the boys went down the line several times.

About the third or fourth time [my son] let go for some reason. He fell about fifteen feet to the ground. This is what happens when you leave two dads home alone with the kids. My son got the wind knocked out of him but had no broken bones. When the mothers arrived home they were less than happy, but I took the opportunity to show great respect for my son. I began to tell of this escapade and called him a warrior and a hero. These words resounded so much with my son that for the next three days he was glued to my side.

Since the incident I have told the story often, always within earshot [of my son], and I have noticed how he will always stick around long enough to hear me call him a warrior hero, and then he will be on his way. After our return [from your conference], I shared with him that I was able to tell this story in front of 350 people, and that brought a huge broad smile across his face. I know I fail my son often; I know I have much to learn as a dad, but there are times when I get to tell this story and he knows he is a knight in shining armor.

Note that the dad used Respect-Talk with his son by referring to him as a warrior and hero, resulting in the boy's staying glued to his dad's side for three days. Respect-Talk created affection and a desire to stay close and connect. I want every mom to pay attention to this. The boy bonded in a deep and profound way with his father, and the same can happen between mother and son when she uses Respect-Talk.

A mom wrote:

One night while putting our sons to bed, my five-year-old, in the midst of my monologue about how much I loved him, looked at me sadly and said, "Mom, are you proud of me?" Shocked, I expressed immediately that I was, of course, proud of him. He asked forlornly, "Then why don't you ever tell me so?" Ever since then, I have worked to hold back on my desire to grab him up off the floor and smother his cheek with kisses, and, instead, I practice putting one hand on his shoulder and telling him I'm proud of him. He responds to that simple gesture by puffing out his chest and replying, "Thanks, mom," with a nod of his head. And he walks away feeling more valued than if I'd kissed his cheek for a year.

Respect-Talk is not to be left to the dads. This boy needed his mother's honor and respect, and he told her so.

By the way, this ignites a new appreciation in a mom for the relationship her husband has with her boys. A mom told me,

I've begun to understand my husband's relationship with our boys. We have three boys, thirteen, ten, and five, and one girl of two years of age.

I've been critical of my husband's way of communicating with the boys. This series of Love and Respect has explained the language between males. My boys spend hours talking with my husband about their interests, which include weapons, the military channel, World War I, World War II, and girls. You must know that my husband is a cop by profession so their conversations are actually very interesting to a point. I've come to understand why they speak this language and how the respect between each other has developed.

The conversations between my sons and husband [are] about honor, respect, wisdom, tactical strategies, and how to apply them to everyday life. But I must say that the content of the conversations is not the only thing interesting to me but also the stern tone of voice my husband uses with them. If he were to use that tone with me or my daughter, we'd probably break down crying. On the other hand, my boys seem to thrive on it. They seek my husband's companionship and always want to seek his conversation.

There we have it. The boys are glued to the dad.


Respect-Talk creates the kind of connectivity every mother yearns to have with her son. Of course, we are not asking mom to put on combat boots, smoke cigars, harness a weapon, and lower her voice. She need not attend the police academy. We are not promoting the idea that a mother becomes a male. Instead, this mother's testimony highlights the importance of not passing judgment on this respect message simply because a mother feels uncomfortable with it. As this mother stated, she initially judged her husband's way of communicating as wrong when, in this instance, it was not wrong. A mother must not judge this language as unacceptable but embrace this as part of God's design. She will value this when her nineteen-year-old saves her life against a home invader.

Truth is, the conversation between this father and these boys represents some of the best of Respect-Talk. I am certain their discussions included such virtues as honor, integrity, caution, loyalty, bravery, prudence, service, and sacrifice. I predict these boys will turn into the kind of men that other men follow and women adore.

I invite moms to stop and ask, "Why do boys respond to a football coach? Why do boys join the Marines and subject themselves to a drill officer?" Many mothers declare, "I have no idea." These male leaders are attesting to these boys, "I believe in you. I admire who I believe you to be. But do you see this in yourself? Do you have what it takes to become what I believe you to be?" This has been a major slogan of the US Army: "Be All That You Can Be!" Boys dream of joining.

Respect-Talk also helps a mother as she connects a son with his father:

The material from the book has been especially helpful with how I am able to support my husband in his relationship with our son and has allowed me to encourage a healthier, more respectful relationship between father and son. Here's how I have used what I learned from Love and Respect when speaking to my son about his father's wishes and encouraging behaviors that my husband desires.

For example, my husband does not like the kids climbing on furniture. When my son does so, I gently remind him that "we need to respect how hard dad has worked to be able to buy things for our family and his desire to take good care of them." My son responds well to this. I suppose he understands this language better than hollering, "Dad says to get off the couch!" ...

I am able to tell my son, "Your dad thinks you should (fill in the blank). Because he wants what is best for you, we need to respect his wishes." It seems my son can understand this need to respect his father (even better than me!) and can rise to obedience out of pure respect.

Mothers Have an Aha Moment

What fascinates me is that many mothers who have attended our Love and Respect Marriage Conference began to e-mail me their testimonies of enlightenment. In our conference we teach Ephesians 5:33. That scripture commands husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands; 1 Peter 3:1 — 2 also address respect. In my marriage book, Love and Respect, I guide wives to experience power and influence by putting on respect toward the spirit of their husbands while addressing unrespectable things. This respectful demeanor in the wives ends up motivating the husbands to be more loving and respectable.


Excerpted from Mother & Son by Emerson Eggerichs. Copyright © 2016 Emerson Eggerichs. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction: A Testimony, ix,
1: Why This Book?, 1,
2: Understanding What Respect Looks Like to Boys, 13,
3: A Game Plan: Mom G.U.I.D.E.S. with Respect, 33,
4: Seeing the Man in the Boy: His Six Desires: C.H.A.I.R.S., 57,
5: Conquest: Respecting His Desire to Work and Achieve, 72,
6: Hierarchy: Respecting His Desire to Provide, Protect, and Even Die, 88,
7: Authority: Respecting His Desire to Be Strong and to Lead and Make Decisions, 105,
8: Insight: Respecting His Desire to Analyze, Solve, and Counsel, 126,
9: Relationship: Respecting His Desire for a Shoulder-to-Shoulder Friendship, 146,
10: Sexuality: Respecting His Desire for Sexual Understanding and "Knowing", 167,
11: An Empathetic Look at the Motherly Objections to Respecting a Boy, 194,
12: Forgiveness, 210,
Appendix A: A Quick Start: For Those Who Feel Pressed for Time, 227,
Appendix B: A Checklist: Apply G.U.I.D.E.S. to His Six Desires: C.H.A.I.R.S., 250,
Appendix C: Daughters, Adult Women, and Mommy Issues, 255,
Appendix D: Tell Us Your Story, 265,
Appendix E: Emerson's 21 Days of Inspiration in Applying the Respect Message, 266,
Bonus Chapter: "The Real Reason to Parent God's Way" from Love & Respect in the Family, 268,
Notes, 279,
About the Author, 283,

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