I found myself prefacing a comment on facebook last week with the phrase “with all due respect.” Admittedly, that was more filler than thoughtful; if what followed felt like a blow, I added the preface to soften it.
Then I got to thinking about respect. My mind can’t go there without quickly passing through 2 thoughts. The first, of course, comes courtesy of Aretha Franklin. Thank you, Ms. Franklin.
The second thought is from a time when I was in youth ministry. Trying to counsel a high school student through his parent’s divorce, I was struck with an insight that, honestly, impressed me.
I had been encouraging the young man to treat his parents with respect because they deserved it. I’m a parent, and I like that line of reasoning.
On the other hand, I knew some of the choices his parents were making were not good choices.
In other words, they were not, in many ways, earning respect.
So, here’s that insight that surprised and impressed me: “Sometimes,” I said, “you have to treat people with respect because you want to be that kind of person. Someone who treats others with respect.”
(You might wonder why that so surprised – and impressed – to think of such a common sensical sort of thing. Be patient with me; I’m still learning this thing called life.)
We who are parents like to think we can command the respect of our children simply because we are parents. While I would agree we should be able to get some mileage out of this, if the ONLY basis you have for expecting your children to treat you with respect is ‘I’m the parent, that’s why!’ then I’m afraid you are going to be in for a lot of disappointment and heartache.
With all due respect, parents (and adults in general), let’s act in ways that deserve respect rather than just demanding we be treated with respect.
Let’s start with treating others with respect. Whether we feel they deserve it or not. Let’s respect others because of who we are.