RESPECT is being defined as a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. (Oxford dictionary) Pretty simple, some might say. Yet, it is not.
How for does respect go? Most of us respect our parents and teachers and grandparents and life partners… some don’t. For sure we all pretend the respect of others. But how does someone earns it? Or… is it something we receive at birth, by default? We already know that losing it it’s very easy.
If someone would have asked the child Octavia if she respects her parents, she would have said yes (and she did, in some measures). But she couldn’t have said why. Because it was believed that we simply MUST respect elder persons. Nobody bothered to explain why and how. They didn’t think it necessary. But it was.
I had 32 years to study this topic. For sure not everybody deserves my respect. And those who do, can anytime lose it. It is also applicable to me. There is no age or function or relation influencing how I give my respect. There is only the person and what he/ she does and how he/ she is.
The other day a child got punished and received a slight slap on the bottom in front of me, for no serious reason. It was the mother doing that. When the little girl started crying, the mom told her to stop and apologize to me…with her head up and clear. I was heartbroken for that little girl… That mom lost my respect. For sure she is losing her daughter’s respect little by little. Until there will be nothing left and the adult daughter will treat her mother in the same way.
I felt like grabbing the mother’s hand and telling her that just because her daughter is smaller than her, it doesn’t give her the right to hit her. I would have also asked why she is not respecting that little person… because she isn’t. When you put a stranger higher than your own child, the message you are transmitting to your child is that she/ he is not as important for you as the stranger. And they also feel that you love them less. So they will try to earn your love (something a child should NEVER have to do). And they will start believing that they are not good enough for you. How can a person who grew like this have self-esteem and confidence?
I left that mother with a bitter taste in my mouth. I am thinking to buy a parenting book and leave it at her door. Would she bother reading it? Does she think she knows better? I hope not…
The question is also applicable to couples. We are sometimes expecting to have the other’s respect just like that, because they love us. But it’s not how it works! We need to earn it, every day! It is about respecting their beliefs, their space and time, their desires, their thinking…about our principles, our attitude, giving and expecting nothing in return. There is a reason why they call it unconditional love! Because this is how it should be offered: free of charge! It is not enough to say “I love you”, we also need to prove it, every day.
What about strangers on the street? And beggars with their dirty clothes? The cleaning lady at work? Or the trash men collecting your trash every week? Should we even bother to respect them? Have they done anything to you? If not, you can at least respect them as beings. Can you tell for sure that you will not end up like one of them?
I will be a mother myself. I am still fighting to replace my parents’ beliefs with mine. At least I’ve got this part solved…