Do All Adults Deserve Respect?

by Reese

Do All Adults Deserve Respect?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. Go Aretha. The first definition of respect is: as in reference to, in respect to. This is not the one that I think that we have confusion about. The second and third definitions are consideration for, and then esteem for.


I have gotten into a bit of trouble as a parent, letting my (I’m bragging here) rather bright son not have esteem for adults, if he so chooses. Freedom of thought. He must show them consideration, and if they are frail and fragile, deference, but I do not require him to have esteem for all adults.


I ask you, you as an adult—do you respect every other adult? Consideration yes, Esteem? I doubt it.


This came about early for my son when he unfortunately in his young life had to deal with some true fools as caregivers either in day camps or after school situations. He asked me flat out, mentioning the name of some inept assistant counselor who had taunted him and then was demanding respect. I answered, “You must listen to him in regards to rules and directions and give him consideration in his position, but by no means should you respect him!”


I believe personally that creates a race of followers, lemmings. I believe many more lives might have been saved even in the World Trade Center if some people had had a little less respect for the people who were telling them initially to stay put. If only they had been giving the voice consideration and not holding it in esteem.


We have had our difficulties in this choice. In school, now back in public it’s not working, I think our best route will be back to private, where hopefully they will get it. Not everyone wants to spend the time with an intellectually gifted and challenging child. It can be tiring; it’s one of those “be careful what you wish for” things …


I think of a wonderful quote from my much loved, departed grandmother, one of those great gals. I think she meant it for sexual morays, but it fits here too: “If you can’t be good, be smart!”


It’s new and in the testing ground mode. He has from time to time to be dubbed difficult for his controversial conversations and his willingness to engage adults in discussion. I pray this bodes well for him, and it becomes tempered as he grows older and hopefully wiser and not some false blanket respect he must get loose from, like shackles and fetters. If I’m not mistaken, we don’t live in a subservient culture.


As he is a tween, it’s becoming tough and he’s feeling his oats. I’m guessing, though, I’ll never have to use the phrase, “If he jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?” With any luck, he will already have no respect for that boy and maybe only try to talk him down.


If all teachers would open with, “I demand your constant attention to me and the work, for the smooth progress of this class, and consideration for all of the other student’s rights. I hope to gain your esteem.”


Respect must be earned. Isn’t that how adults feel?