Note the use of the word "generally."
This morning I forgot to wake Chana up to go to a museum trip that she didn't want to go on. I forgot to tell her about it the night before. We had discussed it when I signed her up, and probably the week before, but unless I let her know that the next day's schedule is different, she wakes on her own schedule. (For example, I never have to wake her up for Parkour, since it is every week and she knows when we have to be out of the house.)
She dislikes most trips. Even though I staunchly maintain that learning how humans lived 100 years ago is best discovered via museums where you can actually see how they lived, she thinks it is boring and complains about most field trips.* So start off with her standard dislike of trips, then compound her unhappy mood by waking her up by shockingly saying, "It's time to leave right now this instant," add into the mix that she is twelve, and you have a grouchy pre-teen that is sulking for the entire trip and thereafter.
(*Perhaps I will one day write a post about how Chana and I navigate her dislike of field trips.)
When she came home, I very much wanted to do Chumash. However, I knew that if I brought it up, she would snap at me. She might, indeed, valiantly try to control herself from snapping at me. She might begin snapping at me, take a deep breath, and continue in a more controlled tone. (She also might yell at me angrily.) The gist would be that she is tired, cranky, not in the mood, and she's not doing Chumash, and I shouldn't even ask.
Knowing this would be the likeliest outcome of requesting to do Chumash, I decided to skip it, spent some time talking to her about my morning and the many things that came up--not excusing me forgetting to wake her up with enough time to get ready to leave, but giving her some perspective, and just generally reconnecting emotionally and trying to open myself to her bad mood and understand her feelings.
When she felt better, and I felt like she wasn't sulking and wasn't angry at me anymore, immediately the urge came up to tell her to do Chumash. Again, I felt that although she would probably be able to control herself even more certainly, she would still be upset at being asked to do Chumash. So again, I controlled myself and refrained.
Although I stand by my decisions, and think that they were correct and made with her best interest and the best interest of my relationship with her and her relationship with Torah, a part of me feels like what is wrong with our society. How does it come to this, that a mother is nervous to ask her young daughter to do something that is part of her daughter's daily responsibilities? How are parents afraid of their children? How is it that I have to take into account that my children might lose their tempers and feel outraged that I ask them to do something?
I consider my children respectful. I sometimes hear children speak to their parents and I am horrified. I would not tolerate my children speaking to me that way.
And yet, a lot of the method, in this generation, to raise children who will not speak to their parents that way, is to be extremely careful about what things will infuriate the children. To choose carefully what to ask for and to choose words and tone carefully. To speak respectfully to them, and to learn to de-escalate when the dialogue gets heated. To back down when they are stubborn, and to discuss it at least 24 hours later when things have calmed down. To separate the discussion the chutzpa tone from the discussion of the actual issue. All of this takes diligence and patience and a great deal of evaluation and thought. And practice.
I cannot help but think that there were other generations where respect for authority was more ingrained in society. Where children and teenagers were conditioned from a young age to respect their elders and to listen to them.
I'm not saying that is necessarily the better way. Questioning authority leads to the removal of injustice, the removal of corruption, the removal of bureaucracy, and to innovation and creativity and discovery and freedom.
Furthermore, I've said many times, as much as children "should" respect elders, elders "should" behave in a way that is worthy of respect.
However. It does astonish me that parents cannot simply ask their children to do things and expect compliance.
In Gemara Sotah 49b it says:
b'ikvah d'meshicha chutzpah yasgeh
Before Mashiach comes, brazenness will be rampant... Truth will be hidden, youths will embarrass elders, and elders will stand in front of the small;
A son will disgrace his father, a daughter will stand up against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies are his household...