One thing my parents did teach me was to respect my elders. It is important to recognize that people older than you have lived here a lot longer than you and have life experiences you have yet to live through. As such, they are entitled to a degree of respect and debt as they have helped pave the way to your being here, in some small or large way.
I always tried to instill in my children an understanding of this attitude. Whether it was an adult in the neighborhood, a coach, a grandparent or me, have the proper attitude towards them always. This concept is taught in the home, first and foremost. It needs to extend into school, even those years if and when your child lands up as my children sometimes did, with a teacher who is not kind, not necessarily respectful to all the students they teach and you are not fond of. I taught them to rise up and set your standards not based on other’s standards or how others treat you but on your own value system. Why lower yourself to someone else’s modest levels? If you are a model of high standards and expectations others tend to follow your lead and if they don’t, it is their loss in the end.
Thus, with my son, in particular, respect was a hallmark of his growing up years. He seldom spoke back to me or his teachers. He could not lie to me very well at all and I think that is because he respected me too much to be dishonest. He knew I entrusted him enough to give it to me straight. I gave him lead way if he was honest, and so he was.
I recall when his friends would come over in high school, if anyone would tell an off-color joke and I was in the room he would be annoyed. He would let them know that when I was in the vicinity nothing was to be said like that, no cussing, etc. He felt respect was critical around me without me saying a word..” He was mindful and extremely protective of me and would not let any of his friends, or anyone else for that matter, be disrespectful of me. If he had to intervene in situations and it was within his power to do so, e.g. an argument with someone, he would.
I knew his transition into the military, whether or not he liked the service, would be seamless because he totally understood the idea of respecting others which is critical there. He always had a sense of personal space and did not invade others without clear nonverbal cues. He did not betray others trust and maintained others confidentiality. Never would my son break a promise, lie or do something horribly dishonest. If you were a friend, he would support you even if it meant he was going to take some heat.
As his mom, he could care less if it looked unusual to his friends, he was supportive of me. He was a boy and then a man of principle who believed in respecting elders as far back as I can remember. My son was willing to stand up for what was right and just no matter what the consequences were. My daughter believed that too, more so as she aged, crossing the tees. She realized the world is a far better place to live if we do the right thing. Perhaps that is why both went into the healthcare profession. They do indeed touch many lives and make those lives better by the work that they both do. I think they respect each and every patient’s lives and in that sense, model behavior that should be followed by others much as they did when they were under my care, my roof.
In today’s world it is easy to lose the ability to respect others, even those close to you. Priorities change, we age, and we form new relationships over time. But, one thing should always remain at the core of who we are, our commitment to those who made us who we became and those around us who make us better people. If we lose that, we lose a vital part of ourselves. We lose our self-respect. Always look in the mirror and be sure you don’t lose yours. With it you have the undying respect of others and without it you run the risk of losing other’s respect you worked hard to create.