From: New Jersey
Number of kids: 2
I feel there is a problem teaching our children the concept of "respect" when everything in our generation treats respect either like a four letter word or something reserved only for the "churches and synagogues." I remember when the first child called me "Mr Schuck," I, like so many of our generation replied, that's ok, just call me Tom. Unfortunately in doing so, I, we, have sold out the very foundation of teaching respect to our children.
Respect is not something that is due to any individual per se. It has been obvious to every new generation that the older generation does not consist of perfect people worthy of praise and admiration. Respect for a person must be earned, and many individuals do earn it by hard work, exemplary life, etc., but earned respect is unfortunately rare and not the sole reason for respect.
Rather, respect is always to given to a "position." Regardless of our political views of the current president, and elected officials, we have the freedom to be as candid of our opinion of them as we desire, but we must and for the most part still do respect the OFFICE that they hold. Respect is due to us as parents, not because we are upermoms and dads, but merely because of our position as mom and dad. Our children must be taught to respect elders not because of who they are, but because of what they are.
Today, teachers in many schools in cities and suburbs are often in fear of their safety from their own students. Police departments realize that no one respects the badge. What can we do about as parents? Just two ideas:
Well, I know that this only superficially addresses this important problem in our culture, maybe other parents will also have ideas on how they address respect and rudeness.
Response Posted by Carolyn: PILGRIM YOU ARE SO RIGHT - kids need to be taught to use titles and to respect positions. But, I disagree with the use of Aunt and Uncle for close friends. Aunt and Uncle are positions, and we diminish the value of the title if we use it for people who are not related. I think in this instance, kids who are taught to act respectively (by not interrupting, acting politely etc.) it is sufficient. Just my opinion, Carolyn
Response Posted by "Mabear": I would like to comment concerning adult attitudes towards children. In my experience and in my perspective I have seen time and again when an adult or a group of adults has needlessly been rude, insensitive and even hateful to a child, a young adult, or a group of children. I have seen the anger creep into the eye of the child who was just falsely accused, by his teacher, of telling a lie. I watched the struggle of a pre-teen as the school secretary told him he'd have to wash his vomit "back down" at the drinking fountain because "the nurse just isn't in right now." It was "field day" here in Phoenix, Arizona and the children were required to be outdoors all day. That child needed help. How about the day a young lad climbed the steps to get on the city bus for the first time in his life and, not knowing the "correct change only" requirements, was loudly ordered off the city bus by the bus driver and told not to return til his "act was together." He'd tried to pay for his trip with a $5 bill. Far more money than was needed. These three examples are a drop in the bucket to what I have in my memory of impatient, inconsiderate, uncaring, unfeeling, unteachable adults. Though I fully back what Pilgrim has to say, I'm teaching my children to question and to be on guard. There have been a number of adults, in respectable positions in my two children's lives, who have made extremely poor judgement calls concerning them and/or their futures. I want children everywhere to have the tools to be able to recognize the truly respectable ones. The ones who place stepping stones in front of the worlds children's feet and who move the barriers of prejudice out of their way. The ones whose voice and lives show respect for the adult human being that each one of these children are growing to become. The ones who care so much for future generations that they are willing to let go of the desire to be on top of the tower, stepping on everybody to get up there, to go down instead to the foundation and roll up their sleeves. Where the work is hard and the results so seldom seen immediately but where the heart of the support and stability is. But what are the tools a child can use to look for respectability in an adult? Even more pertinent to today's world, how do we help them to look for the qualities without becoming overwhelmingly discouraged by the adults who never grew up? How I wish, Pilgrim, that things could indeed be the way you wrote. What happens though when the teacher I've taught my daughter to call Mr. So-and-so sexually abuses her? If I teach her to respect one who ends up abusing her will it be more traumatic for her to deal with than if she just sees him as simply another person who happens to be a teacher? I don't know. When respect for someone is in the heart I would think it is a very powerful thing.
Response Posted by DALady: I agree with MaBear about children learning to respect wisely, not automatically. No, I don't think close friends should be Aunt and Uncle because they are NOT family....those names should be reserved for family. And if an adult address your child using his first name, then I feel that adult has given your child the permission to address him or her by first name. I don't think this has anything to do with "respect" -- but with "rules." The kids in my neighborhood call me Barbara and I'm the Mom that everyone comes to when they are having problems. They all respect me because (1) I'm there for them and (2) they know I won't take any of their crap, wherever they are, if it's in my house, at school, in the corner store...whatever.
I particularly agree with MaBear's example of giving respect to someone who may harm/abuse your child. As a survivor of child abuse myself, I have taught my son (who is 12) that NO, not all adults are right. I have taught him to be selective in his respect, but that he shouldn't be rude really to anyone. Last week a teacher yanked him out of line because she thought he had been causing trouble (case of mistaken identity). He has bruises on his arm, with fingerprints...adult fingerprints...from where she grabbed him. No, this woman doesn't merit respect, she deserves to get bounced out if she's going to be physically abusive to my son or any other child. Children are so afraid to square off with an adult who has been rude or disrespectful to them (yes, I think it works both ways) that I think kids eventually just get desensitized and lose respect for everyone.
The best example of teaching is by doing. My father was a great one for "do as I say, not as I do." If I'm nasty and disrespectful, my children will be the same way.
We had an incident (I work in the Prosecutor's Office locally) where, during a high school assembly, 6 or 7 students stood up raising their fists, screaming "White Power!" and the school is about one-third Black. When questioned, this White Power group said that's what they had been taught at home. Sad. Very Sad.
So, IMHO, don't demand respect from your kids....TEACH it to them. It'll stick with them better in the long run.
Response Posted by Delila: I basically agree with DALady. I don't think what a child calls you necessarily creates respect or not. I personally prefer to be on a first name basis with my children's friends. I think it's a personal decision, and I don't particularly appreciate it when other kid's parents call me Mrs. ____ to their children, without asking me first what I would like to be called, but I suppose I do the same thing when I call the other parents by their first name to my children. One compromise I don't mind as much, (if the parent feels strongly about using titles), is being called "Ms. Delila," or something to that effect. I definitely prefer that over Mrs. ____. I think part of me still doesn't feel like a Mrs. even after 14 years of marriage! It just sounds old to me. Like DALady, I also like to be the mom in the neighborhood that kids feel they can talk to. I think being on a first name basis is essential for that. I chuckle when I think of ever talking in depth to any of my parents' friends who I called Mr. and Mrs. NO WAY! They were old fogies. True, I respected them, but that's about it.
Response Posted by "Carrie" from St.George, UT: This concerns the respect issues I've been reading about (above). Like some of the other parents, I believe respect should be given to the person's position, but that only goes so far. I feel that a person, for example a teacher, should be given full respect until such time they prove themselves undeserving. I don't mean to give a free hand to rude behavior at that point, but I do intend to tell my children that when an adult is wrong they have every right to disagree and/or leave the situation. I have an example from just this morning. I took my 6 year old to the library to return and get some new books. This has been a favorite activity of hers for a long time. She has her own card and knows how to check the books out by herself. This is what she was doing this morning when she came to me with tears in her eyes. The librarian had taken her second card and cut it up and threw it in the trash telling my little girl she couldn't have that card anymore. My daughter had two cards because one was a replacement for a lost then found card, we weren't sure which was the current card. I talked to the woman myself and it was very clear that this whole thing was just a power trip for her. When my daughter began to say that the lady was rude, instead of telling her just to be nice, I agreed with her and then helped her to remember the other good librarians that had helped her before and that she was to go to them instead of the rude lady next time. My daughter will be polite, but she will not have to put up with that any more that an adult would. So yes, respect the office, but more important, respect your child.
Response Posted by "poobag" from Stevenage, Herts, UK:Just a quickie! On the subject of addressing a family friend. Why not use Mr (Or Mrs) Bob, or Jane? This repects the fact that the child is dealing with an adult, reseerves the terms Aunt or Uncle for immediate family?
Response Posted by Safe4U from Humble, TX: Hello everyone! Teaching respect is a broader subject than what we have touch on thus far. Being respectful of adults, and authority is just one part of a multitude of areas in which respect should be shown. Lets face it. It's difficult for kids to receive respect, and this is what I have trouble with! We preach to them to be respectful of adults, but how rare it is to see adults show respect for kids! Even teachers treat them like little army recruits, never asking their opinions of how things should be done, or how to problem solve. We don't give children the respect THEY deserve. But demand it from them regardless!
I think a lot of kids today are ill mannered, foul mouthed, and rebellious, due in part to the fact that they have not been shown respect at home, nor had decent role models i.e., parents, that are respectful to one another, let alone the kids! This is really sad. I really believe that children should be taught about abuse, and abductions, etc. so they are wary of adults that approach them, but they should never be forced to show affection to relatives, or others they are uncomfortable with, and should be told saying "No" to an adult is okay as well, if they are in a situation that warrants it.
But lets touch on teaching respect of others property also, as a lot of kids I've observed are clueless. They play in your yard, destroy your kids toys, climb your trees, etc. with no regard for the homeowner's responsibilities that dictate, that unless we want to be sued, we have to keep them safe on our property. Parents don't seem to be teaching kids how to behave at other's homes! Good manners and respect seem to be a thing of the past! Personally, I insist on please and thank you's from my son, but I find myself waiting endlessly to hear it from his friends. This is really disappointing. But for me it's wonderful hearing from other parents and teachers how respectful my son is. Manners go a long way to helping kids receive respect back from adults, so please folks, teach your kids the basic manners, and how to respect others property as well as their opinions, and differences. Teach them to treat others how they'd like to be treated. It sure helps to keep things harmonious.
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