Friday, December 22, 2006


Aretha sang about it. It’s popular today for companies to say that they treat both their employees and customers with it. And it’s in every school handbook we know about. What is it? R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect for others, self, and property. Recent incidents in local school systems point out the need for respect. But then we ask: How and by whom? Respect must be earned. But first, it must be taught. It is the parent’s job, first and foremost, to teach children how to respect others, their property, and their rights. We live in a society circumscribed by rules, laws, and manners. These manners include being polite to others, considerate, and respectful. Respect is due, traditionally, to adults from children, simply because adults have lived longer. That’s an arcane custom, but not one which should be arbitrarily tossed out in the current “got to be my kid’s friend” climate of child-rearing. Children need to learn that “respect” doesn’t mean one person is always right. It doesn’t mean one person “is the boss of the other.” Respect is the basis by which we engage each other in today’s society. Those who’ve been taught to respect one another are usually those who’ve been taught by their parents that each person is important in this world. The Golden Rule says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Did you know that this is but one version? In most mainstream religions, this rule exists. Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga 5:18) Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary.” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a) Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Sunnah) How do you treat people? How do you allow others to treat you? How do you treat your children? Your spouse? Your best friend? Look at these relationships and then look at what you are teaching your children. Are you teaching your children that there is a “right” way to speak to people and a “wrong” way? Are you teaching your children that the “rules” apply to “others” and not to them? Are you teaching your children the basics: “please’ and ‘thank you’ when interacting with others? Do you teach your children by example? Do you treat others well? Are you respectful in your dealings with others, or are you always thinking “It’s them against me”? Because how you treat others – those close to you and those with whom you deal on a daily basis – forms the core of how your children learn to live in this world. It’s troubling enough in today’s society. Guns are in schools. Kindergartners bring weapons to class. Television and music seem to hold more sway over kids than parents do. It’s time to bring this back around. Bring back your basic parenting skills and teach your kids respect. This will help them function as they grow to be productive adults. They can’t live in this world without it. And without it, it won’t be much of a world to live in.

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