Today was the straw which broke the camel's back. I was frustrated. I was annoyed. I was beyond irritated with an elderly woman in our community.
It has nothing to do with her age, as anyone with the same disregard for other people would have conjured up the same harsh feelings in me.
So this is my plea to parents old and new and upcoming alike: please please PLEASE teach your children about respect.
It's not outdated. It's not a historic concept. It's not an antique word or concept that will one day be irrelevant. And it is certainly not something that can be "inferred" through the years of parenting. We must be deliberate. We must be intentional. We must. As parents the world is screaming at our kids with messages of sex and violence, magic and terror. In fact the "have it your way" slogan is being engrained into the minds of kids, young and old alike, and I'm not even referring to Burger King.
I'm not even going to relive the experience this morning because I should probably keep my blood pressure at a healthy level. My midwife and unborn son will thank me.
But what I will say, is that I expected more. Maybe I shouldn't have the bar set so high. But of all people groups, or demographics, I assumed the elderly bracket of adults would understand respect as a part of life.
However, I've also learned well that assumption is the lowest form of knowledge and leads me astray more often than not.
In the last few months I've seen ridiculous examples, time and time again, where elderly persons are just blatantly disrespectful to others. People of the same age, to younger, and very young others. And it's not ok.
You can't cut people in line. You can't shove others out of their turn. You can't make up your own set of rules and expect people to follow them. You can't pretend others don't exist. It's not respectful. And it's certainly not becoming. Ever.
Which is again, why, I'm imploring parents to teach their kids about respect.
I fear a generation in which all regard for others is lost. And it's not a far off reality either.
So how can we do this? Because to simply say "respect others" is not enough.
Sit them down.
Tell them that respect is important.
Tell them what respect means.
If you don't know, google it. Or take this "respect for dummies" definition as a starter: thinking and caring about how others feel before doing or saying something".
Show them respect. Model it. Give them scenarios at the lunch table and ask how respect would be used. Ask them what disrespect looks like and how not to model it.
Show them what the Bible says about respect. Fill their moral "libraries" with respectful resources so that when they leave your sight they can "check out" those resources and use them when it matters most.
We want them to fix the problems in the world or to be the solution to the crummy things we see, but we are too busy shuttling them to the next activity, or social get-together, or instagraming their faces to give them the tools necessary to actually do it.
To the lady who was completely disrespectful today, to my kids and I, I forgive you. Honestly- you probably didn't even know what you were doing. At least I hope not.
And to my children who witnessed this behavior, I pray you can forgive her too. And also see the ugliness that is thinking of self over others, and embrace the idea that Jesus modeled so very well that is respect. Even when He didn't agree or have the same ideology as another, He wasn't rude. He wasn't disrespectful. He preferred others over Himself. He preferred me. And you. And I pray we can love the same way.
Respect. It's not an outdated principle. It's a virtuous way of living. And it's rewarding and worth it. And it's simply the right thing to do.