We are one of the few parents, dusty relics of a bygone era, who still make their kids say ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ when addressing adults. However, if you know us personally, we know that just because we wrote this they probably WON’T do it the next time they talk to you. That’s just the way this sort of thing goes. Getting them to say ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ consistently has been a long, slow, arduous process. For some reason, in the absence of constant instruction in this area kids tend to default to ‘yes,’ ‘yeah,’ or a guttural grunt when being addressed by adults. We think it might have something to do with the reason why we never had to teach our children to complain, throw temper tantrums, antagonize their siblings, disobey their parents, or a host of other things. They are, after all, like their parents and every other person on this earth – sinners!
But we do think this simple habit is worth instilling, as part of a much larger picture. Why, when most of the world seems to have abandoned this basic act of civility, should we still insist our children follow a code of manners that seems to have died out in the 60’s (just another example of the hippie generation’s many ‘contributions’ to the decaying culture we live in today)? Why? Because showing deference to their elders and those in authority over them will help our children grasp a concept that, although today’s society seems to have lost every modicum of it, is integral to the foundations of civilization itself – RESPECT.
Here are a few things we are teaching and will continue to teach our children about the lost art of respect.
1.) Respect your elders – Today’s society has blurred the line between children and adults. In yesteryear, children were expected to not only show respect to adults, but to behave like adults as well. Today, adults and children alike behave like juveniles, showing respect to no one. Could this possibly have something to do with the fact that today’s ‘arrested development’ ‘adults’ never learned respect when they were young? Hello Captain Obvious, we think the answer is a resounding yes!
2.) Respect the elderly – Not talking about any specific AGE here, but let’s face it, we all know who the elderly are, and they are in more places than nursing homes, bingo parlors, doctor’s offices, driving 30 in the fast lane, Neal Diamond concerts, and the early bird dinner at Shoney’s. Beyond the simple fact that they deserve respect from all of us simply for staying alive as long as they have, the elderly (most of them anyway) possess wisdom that can only really be obtained through age and experience. Respect this, respect them, and learn from them. God willing, we’ll all be there someday!
3.) Respect the opposite sex – One of the reasons for the appalling lack of modesty and decorum among young people is the sad fact that they have never been taught to respect the opposite sex. Where there is no respect, there is no inhibition. No WONDER so many teenagers find themselves in questionable situations! A boy won’t ask for something inappropriate from a girl he respects, nor will a girl dress like a prostitute to try and tempt a boy she respects. The pure, innocent but exhilarating magic of courtship, dating, and the thrilling sequence of events that lead, finally, to marriage and all the privileges it should entail has been all but destroyed by today’s ‘culture.’ This starts with a lack of respect between the sexes.
4.) Respect your teachers – Gone are the days when (most) parents take a teacher’s word over that of their innocent little angel. Today, parents argue their child’s case to the end, never for a moment considering that their little buttercup could be LYING. Our kids have the same rule we both had when we were kids – when/if they get in trouble at school, it’s double punishment at home. End of discussion.
5.) Respect your parents – OK maybe this is a bit self-serving but hey, we’re the parents God gave them and they WILL show us respect. It must be important because this is one of the commands the Bible actually accompanies with a promise – long life to those who honor their father and mother. I don’t know how long a life that means, but if they really want to test us on this respect thing their life could be a lot shorter than they planned! 🙂
6.) Respect the law and constitutional authority – For someone of the Christian libertarian bent like me, this is a toughie. According to Romans, the law is given to reward good and punish evil. Too many kids get on the wrong path, with the wrong friends, and end up, to dire consequences, doing something illegal and harming themselves and/or others. We want our children to respect and obey the law. That said, neither do we want our children to be mindless drones in a totalitarian police state. Done peacefully and properly, questioning authority is a GOOD thing, but where the law accomplishes its original intent and doesn’t violate Scripture, we should all respect it.
We live in perhaps the last vestiges of the best system of government devised by man, a constitutional system with checks and balances put in place for no other purpose than to LIMIT the evil and mayhem governments historically are prone to. Sadly, we are currently witnessing the death throes of this system. We can respect constitutional law and authority while questioning and calling to account those in ‘power’ who are violating the principles our nation was founded upon.
7.) Respect our Creator – Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Doesn’t it all really start here? If we learn to respect God and the order He has established, all the other things will fall much more easily into place.
There are doubtless many more besides these seven, but we’ll stop here. The cultural Marxists have turned our society, our culture, upside down, and people wonder why kids turn out the way they do. Teach your children to respect God and to respect others, and they will more readily learn to respect themselves.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. Psalms 119:15