Brittle Skillet

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Posts Tagged ‘Children

Teaching Our Kids Respect

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By g-hat

We must teach our kids respect. The state of our society depends on it. I’m not sure how or why, but our culture, in the main, seems to have left this lesson by the roadside.

Respect for authority and our elders and choices about what language is okay are important aspects of the bigger picture. But what I’m specifically targeting here is respect for self and respect for others. I believe that if these foundational aspects of respect are instilled from the very start, the other types of respect will fall into place.

I realize that I am making broad generalizations here, but these generalizations seem perfectly appropriate to the prevalent lack of these two types of respect within our larger American society today. CNN’s series Black in America offers great examples of how this segment of our population is addressing the challenge of respect in their own ways within the scope of their larger challenges to give their kids a fighting chance toward future success. But on the whole and across our communities at large, the opportunity and need for these lessons is greater than the response to them.

There is a group of people for whom the natural biological drive is to conquer and control the world around them, abusing resources, including people, to achieve their own pleasure or success. The self-selecting members of this Group A are usually, but not always, boys.

By contrast and in compliment, there is a second group of people for whom the natural biological drive is to nurture and support, accommodate and supply. The self-selecting members of this Group B are usually, but not always, girls. By nature, A and B are a perfect fit.

Specifically, and here I continue the broad generalizations, the lesson of society for the Group A member child is that he should make the world his own. Group A member children are taught that complying with parents or other authority is often a good strategy to ultimately get what they want and keep the waters calm. But ultimately, it is for the selfish execution of his own gain, not the cooperative gain, and it leads to the neglect of this child’s own inner moral checkpoints.

In general, members of Group B are taught to gain the positive attention and approval of others, to please others frequently at the cost of their own inner motivations. At some point in childhood, this lesson translates itself into the Group B member child turning these external motivators into internal motivators. This practice leads to the neglect of this child’s own inner voice and her inner moral checkpoints.

I am not suggesting that we deny nature, but rather work with it. The strengths and natural leaning of Group A members and Group B members are useful and good for the cooperative progress of community. However, the natural biological drives, instead of being enhanced by what our culture is currently teaching, should be consciously recognized as such, and then monitored and modified, redirected with intentional choice and an awareness of consequences.

Respect for others builds a foundation for compassion and deters against harming and exploiting others. Respect for self keeps our ears open to our own inner motivations and enables us to exercise a balance between nurturing and supporting others while nurturing and supporting ourselves. Both kinds of respect provide a mechanism of guidance from moral checkpoints that we, presumably, also learn along the way to adulthood. The first place a child of either group learns both kinds of respect is by watching the adults around him model it. Let’s all practice respect.

Resources that suggest how to teach and model respect:

Photo by g-hat

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm