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.

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Do you keep promises to yourself?

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We all love people we can trust. As a kid, I could always trust my dad to keep his promises. He’d even keep promises he hadn’t officially made. Sometimes in the morning, we’d ask him, “Dad, can we go for a bike ride tonight when you get home from work?” He’d inevitably respond with some variant of “We’ll see” but more often than not, when he got home, he’d tell mum “I promised the kids I’d go bike riding with them tonight.”

Things like that have a lasting impact on kids. You respect people whom you can trust. But can you trust yourself?

I was talking to my class this week about goal setting. It is often the case that in order to get to where you want to be in life, you have to have a plan. But more important than having a plan, is having the ability to stick to it.

I asked the students: If you promise yourself that you’re going to do something, do you actually do it?

Making promises to myself is something that I take pretty seriously. It’s hard to respect a person who doesn’t deliver on their word, so how can we have self-respect if we’re constantly letting ourselves ‘off the hook’ when we’ve previously determined to do something?

If you want to be a trustworthy person, you’ve got to keep your promises, and not just those you make to other people. If you tell yourself you’re going to do something, do it!

Chivalry Didn’t Die at the Hand of a Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has long been said that chivalry is dead and I wonder, if this is true, who killed it?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not because men in every city decided that they’d be happier just being jerks. Nope, the first stabs in chivalry’s back came from women who decided they’d be happier being treated like men.

Before I get an onslaught of anger over issues of equality and gender stereotypes, let me say this.: I’m all for equality, but I’m also all for difference. In centuries gone by, chivalry was a man’s way of respecting and honouring this distinction. It was not about his right to exert power; it was about her privilege of receiving service.

For centuries men and women have existed in a harmonious dance of give and take, each serving each other, until (dare I say) the women decided they wanted to do everything themselves. Goodness knows why they’ve felt a sudden need to open their own doors (no-one ever doubted you were capable of it) but somehow it seemed necessary as they hurtled past equality towards power and dominance, leaving emasculated men in their wake.

For the record, I don’t think chivalry is dead (though it is languishing under the pressure of decades of slow strangulation) and I commend the men who uphold it, but I would say this to the women who are lamenting its rarity: Before you cry in disgust that chivalry is dead, make sure you’re acting like a lady.