By Guest Blogger Carrie Friesen
Almost anyone with a school-aged child has seen it – the certain roll of the eyes and sigh that shows that they do not like what you just told them and are letting you know it. I recently saw this from my 8-year-old for the first time and was shocked! We discussed this, as I wanted to make sure that she understood what her actions were showing, i.e., disrespect to her mom who loves her. I did not want this to become a new behavior and attitude, and thankfully it has not, yet. When it occurred, though, I strongly felt the disrespect that it conveyed. How do you feel when you are openly disrespected?
Don’t we all want to be respected? Respect is defined as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person.” Wow – who doesn’t want to be esteemed or valued for their excellence as a person? To respect others basically means that you treat others the way that you want to be treated. It means that when you are listening to them, you give them your undivided attention. My mom did this in an amazing way, and as a result made many people around her feel loved. She made you feel like you were the most important thing to her at that moment, and that she valued what you were saying, and she did this with everyone.
Disrespect for others is something that we unfortunately see too commonly. We’ve certainly seen it from all sides in this election season, but I think we regularly see it in our homes and jobs and social circles as well. My daughters show it when they are unkind to one another and when they do not obey their parents with happy hearts. I show disrespect to them when I am impatient and have a sharp tongue (and I’m sure in many other ways). I see this in teens and kids at my office when they are too engrossed in their iPhone to have a conversation with their pediatrician. I have to admit that I have done the same to my girls and husband – at times I have been too “busy” with an email or article to give them my undivided attention.
So how can we cultivate a culture of respect or at least kids who are respectful of others? While we cannot demand respect from others, as that would be tyrannical, we can expect to be respected. Children are called to honor their parents, and should be corrected when they are not. Learning this will hopefully help train them to respect others who are in authority over them as well. We can also live respectably, in a way that causes others to respect and esteem us. While we won’t always do it perfectly, we can try our best to live by the Golden Rule and teach our kids to also. We should respect others, even if their viewpoint is different from ours, and model to those around us how to be respectful. As Maya Angelou stated, “Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren’t, we should behave as though we are – cheerful, kind, loving, courteous. Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.”
Finally, you cannot expect to be respected if you do not respect others or yourself. I believe that this respect for every person comes from knowing that each of us was created in God’s image, and that gives incredible worth to each person. This influences everything about how I see other people. If you believe differently, you can still respect yourself, because you are an amazing and beautiful person. Live as one worthy of esteem and value for your excellence as a person. Along the way, when you face someone who does not respect you, remember that you can’t control if they respect you or not. Even insisting on respectful behavior from our children cannot make them actually feel respect for us. But we can control how we respond and treat others. Let’s strive to cultivate a culture of respect by respecting others (including our children and those who might treat us disrespectfully) because of their inherent value as human beings.