What Ever Happened To: Respect

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By Myrna Conrad,

Myrna Conrad 150x150

We all want to be shown respect.

Do you remember when people used to say “Yes Sir/Yes Ma’am” or “No Sir/No Ma’am”?  Do you remember when people got up and gave an older person their seat if there were no more seats available, opened doors for people, or took care of other’s property?  Do you remember when parents were respected by their children, teachers were respected by their students, employers were respected by their employees, government officials were respected by those who elected them and even by those who did not vote for them.  They may not have agreed with those in authority over them, but they respected their position of authority.

In today’s world all you need to do is walk out your door and interact in public to see and experience disrespect. Drivers cut off and disrespect other drivers.  Someone honks their horn at you for not driving to their specifications or for being slower than they are comfortable with.  Someone pulls into that parking place that you have been waiting for with your blinker on.  People cut in line, are rude to waiters and waitresses, try on clothes and leave them on the floor in dressing rooms, throw their trash out their car windows.  In fact, we don’t even have to leave our house to experience a culture of disrespect.  Just turn on your television, watch sports, watch reality television (my favorite one to watch is American Ninja Warrior because they show such great respect for each other, even though they are competing), or watch cable news. Not only do you see so many news stories about disrespect for people, for law enforcement, for our President and other political figures, but many on some of the news shows also disrespect each other by always talking over each other. There is disrespect in our schools, at the workplace, in our churches and in our homes and if we don’t show respect for those that God put in authority over us, we will likely fail to show respect toward God.

So, what is respect and how and when did we slide down the slippery road of disrespect? Respect is due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.  It also means to show esteem, honor, and appreciation for those in authority.  Respect is one of the most fundamental values of society because it allows people to live in order and harmony.  We don’t have to agree with someone to show them respect.

There has always been a measure of disrespect in society, however, it seems to have grown exponentially over the last two decades.

Respect starts in the home.  When husbands and wives respect each other, children see and learn respect.  Children need discipline and direction, but it needs to be done with respect.  Children need to be taught to respect those in authority over them and their parents need to demonstrate respect for those in authority over them.   Parent’s need to look at and have some control over what children watch and hear.  There is so much disrespect on television, in some music, and in some reading materials.  What we choose and allow to go into our minds affects our attitudes and eventually flows out of our mouths and filters into our behavior around others, often with devastating consequences.

Do you want more harmony in your home, workplace, school, church, and community?  Then start demonstrating and teaching respect.  How do you do that?  Here are a few strategies:

1 – Be Aware:  

  • Make the conscious decision to be aware of how you treat those around you.  Often your actions or reactions perpetuate the same actions in those you come in contact with.
  • Observe the actions of those around you and when given the opportunity, respond with kindness and grace.

2 – Be Intentional:

  • Make a conscious effort to show more respect.  When you find yourself being disrespectful, apologize.
  • As said before, respect starts at home.  When you see your children being disrespectful, point it out to them and discuss a better way to handle the situation.  There should be consequences for disrespect.  However, children react to positive feedback.  Praise them when you see them showing respect to others.  We all respond positively to praise.
  • You can also use what you and your children witness around you as teaching moments.  If you observe disrespect take some time to discuss what you saw and a better alternative.

Respect must start with you!

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