Thursday, September 10, 2009

Teaching Respect

As a child growing up in the south, we were taught never to call an adult by his or her first name without attaching a title. My grandmother's neighbor across the street was Aunt Emma to my dad and his sisters as well as all the grandchildren. Now, we more commonly attached "Miss" to a first name for our friends. I am "Miss Lori" to the children of most of my friends. For adults, I'm not one who is overly worried about using titles, but I think it very appropriate for children. Children should learn respect for others, especially those in an authority position.

We should all show respect to those around us. I'm not talking about the military style "if you outrank me I have to do everything you say kind of obedience" but basic respect. There have been too many examples of late of problems in our country relating to lack of respect. Dr. Gates, the Harvard professor arrested at his home, could have avoided a big mess had he shown more respect for the police officer. Yes, the police officer was acting inappropriately, but he's still a police officer. Getting in his face isn't going to help the situation. My encounter with a police officer after my son walked to soccer practice was similar. I was fairly upset by what he said to me, but I didn't let my emotions get the best of me at the time. I respectfully listened to his tirade and then a day later, contacted the chief of police for clarification. So, by "respect" I don't mean just lie down and take abuse of power, just handle the conflict differently.

Another poor example is parents' refusal to allow their children to watch an address by the President of the United States. This country has always been divided on political views, but it seems to be getting much worse lately. Agree or not with the President, he is the President, elected fairly and through the same process we have used for over 200 years. Government only functions when citizens have faith in it.

Lose respect for our elected leaders and our country will fall in anarchy. I'm serious about that. I've disagreed with many elected officials before and I'm not afraid to tell them so. But, I respect the position that they hold and I know it's not easy being in a job where making even half the people happy is success. We need to teach our children to have respect for the President. Not everyone voted for him, but for the next four years, he is the President for every citizen of the United States. Our children should see us set the example of respect, not learn distain for authority from us.

Lastly, I want to comment on Rep. Wilson's outburst during the President's speech last night. I think everyone agrees it was in bad taste, but I would argue that it's the natural outgrowth of this disrespect we are exhibiting for our President and other elected officials. We need to lead our children by example in showing respect for our elected officials, the police, our children's teachers and anyone else in an authority role. If we don't, how do we expect our children to behave? I don't want to live in a world like that.

I teach my children to respect others.

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