How do we handle disrespect?

8 08 2011

Most of last week was spent listening to comments about the increasing trend of disrespect displayed towards President Obama lately.  It is disturbing, to say the least.  I was raised on military bases so I watched my enlisted stepdad salute his superiors every time we moved around the base.  I loved the decorum and organization.  It never bothered me that he was not an Officer – I was just happy that he was in the service.  It definitely added value to my life.

One thing I learned for sure was respect for authority.  Although I was the class cutup before my mother remarried; once I started school on base- it ceased.  I was not an angel in school, but my mother never went to school to deal with discipline issues again.  I learned from what I saw practiced every day; respect for leadership and respect for authority.  The only dark side appeared when I started dating.  My stepdad refused to allow me to date an Officer.  He said there was “no way” he was saluting anybody in his own home – don’t even think about it.  Needless to say, I married an enlisted  man.  The one Officer I dated was mysteriously escorted off the base when he tried to visit me. Told ya – I was not an angel…

But back to the issue of respect – I do not see it displayed at that level today.  Let’s look back over President Obama s term – so far. Military leaders speak out against the President of the United States.  Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina yelled out to the President during his speech on health care reform “you lie”.  It was disrespectful, unbelievable and completely out of order.  But he apologized.  Donald Trump went on the attack about the President’s birth certificate, his education and his grades. He was rude, sarcastic and just plain ugly.  He pushed me off the fence.  I was always border line about him anyway.  I loved the Apprentice, but I was never sure about him.  Now I am sure – there is nothing he could put on TV that I would want to watch! He is much too arrogant to apologize.  Representative Doug Lamborn distanced himself, verbally, from the President by comparing it to touching a tar-baby.  But he too apologized.  Then of course, there is Pat Buchanan (again), who referred to the President as “your boy” and yes – he apologized also.  Collectively, they didn’t learn respect for leadership but they have definitely learned the art of an apology. Hmmm…

What should our young people think?  How should they interact with leaders and teachers they encounter each day?

Between now and Labor Day, school will start for kids around the country.   I have always felt that intellect is secondary to behavior.  It doesn’t matter  how smart a child or adult is, if they cannot function in society and/or they have no respect for authority, life for them and around them can be  miserable.  Simply put, whatever their gift or talent, interacting with them is just not worth the trouble.

If you are dealing with adults, sometimes it is as easy as changing your environment.   If it is someone you work with change could be more difficult, if possible at all.  But what about teachers that must spend the day with a difficult child or teen that has no respect for authority? Students certainly will not learn by watching political leaders today or some “religious” leaders as well.  What is a teacher to do?

How do we correct the problem?  There are many opinions in cyberspace on the subject.  According to   ascd.or, “With such an atmosphere of mutual disrespect festering in our classrooms, learning is becoming increasingly difficult.  Before you can teach or learn from someone, you need to genuinely respect them.”  Also good advice from How to Teach Kids to Respect Others:  When your children speak, listen carefully.  Do not yell.  Do not roll your eyes. Do not insult, and never, ever hit.  If you engage in any of this type of behavior with your children, they will ultimately learn that this behavior is acceptable, no matter how many times you tell them with words that it’s not ok.

If this is true – we need to send a few leaders back to school for retraining.

We always hear that it takes a village to raise a child.  But with the expansion of the World Wide Web and so many links to other social groups, we must all assume a certain amount of responsibility for the foot prints we leave at the end of every day.  What we say and do matters – now more than ever.

How to Teach Kids to Respect Others |;;;,8599,1921455,00.html;;


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