Please teach your children about unconditional respect.

I’m sure that one of the most horrifying moments for a parent is when they hear their children parroting them and suddenly realize what they sound like. I can sympathise.

But there’s one thing I’m hearing from kids that goes beyond simple parroting; it highlights a core issue about what we’re teaching the next generations about respect.

See, they think that in order to give respect, favour has to be earned.

That’s just not right.thumbnail

Last week I was teaching my German students about the formal and informal versions of ‘you.’ I gave them an example: “If Tony Abbot came to our school and needed directions…”

I couldn’t even finish my sentence without yells of ‘elephant ears,’ and ‘we hate him.’

They’re 13 year olds. They can’t vote for another 5 years and I’d be willing to bet they know next-to-nothing about politics. They’re parroting what they’ve heard their parents say.

What I want to know is, can the parents hear themselves? Can we hear ourselves? Those kinds of comments aren’t about exerting our right to have a political opinion; they’re about slander and bullying.

What kind of values are we teaching our children when we publicly malign and disrespect the person in the highest position of power and authority in our country?

Is it any wonder that teachers and police officers and parents themselves aren’t receiving the respect they deserve?

Some kinds of respect are unconditional.

You’re an Adult, But Your Inferiority Complex is Making You Rude

rocker-chick_21165512I was reminded today, listening to some of my students talk, about how brutal high school can be. In a country that works hard at maintaining the illusion of being a classless society, high school teaches us the exact opposite.

When you’re at school you learn pretty quickly where you sit in the hierarchy. You learn that there are certain people who you don’t approach to talk to because their status at school puts them in a category far superior to yours. You speak only if spoken to, and even though you may be nice to each other, you’ll never be friends.

We like to think that once we get into the big wide world, everything changes. Teenage popularity is no longer a symbol of success, but what bothers me is how much those growing up years can impact who we are and how we see the world.

I wouldn’t be one who’s quick to say I struggle with inferiority, but the other day I realized that more than ten years after leaving high school, there are still people who I wouldn’t approach with friendliness, because of my ingrained sense of hierarchy.

I realized that far from making me humble and unassuming, it was simply making me rude.

As adults, I think there are many of us who need to erase the pedestals, and learn that inferiority is no excuse for rudeness. If anything, it only turns us into the very people who intimidated us in the first place.

‘Never Been Kissed’ and making wise choices about sexuality.

Free-Vector-Graphic-Art-Kiss1Drew Barrymore’s film, ‘Never Been Kissed,’ came out in 1999, my first year of high school. That movie was one of the big hits amongst teenage girls that year.

I remember my girlfriends and I being enthralled by the love story, and even re-winding and re-playing the scene when the heroine finally gets kissed.

Years later, however, I was horrified when I watched it for the first time as an adult, and as a teacher.

The main plot line involves a reporter going undercover as a student in a high school and ending up with a crush on her English teacher. He clearly reciprocates and makes a poor effort at concealing his feelings for her, until the end when he finally finds out that she is, in fact, an adult.

Now, I am sickened by the way in which the young teacher was mesmerized by his student. It makes me wonder how I could watch it, so unfazed, as a teenager.

It reminds me of a statement I heard recently: ‘There are legal ages for sex for a reason.’ Adolescent brains aren’t developed enough to deal with many aspects of their sexuality.

As a teenager, I somehow missed the inappropriateness of the film’s central love affair. Something that probably should have bothered me seemed romantic. As an adult, it all looks quite different.

It is important that we, as adults, protect our teenagers from making poor choices, until they are old enough to choose wisely.