Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Depending on what daily headline you’ve read recently or news you’ve heard, today’s reality is making many of us worried, scared, depressed, outraged, fearful, angry, disgusted, or uncertain. Every day my office is filled with patients (children and parents) with all of these feelings.

But there is one issue that comes up often that we don’t talk about enough: Are children showing the appropriate respect to their parents and other authority figures such as teachers, coaches, and family members? When this topic comes up I find myself thinking about and asking what are parents and society really modeling for our children today about respect?

Even with the deluge of daily bad news lately, I have found myself checking news outlets and social media feeds because I want to see how people are treating other people, human being to human being. It’s this underlying story that motivated me to write this blog post.

Our children (of all ages) see so much mistreatment: discrimination, anger, bullying. And these are often adults I’m referring to, but it’s peers, friends, and even cousins.

In 2017, parents (myself included) may be the only real role models for respect and decency that our children ever see (other than in school). The good news is that you can do this important work at any time and in any place.

Here is what I am practicing daily: Every morning I am trying to model kindness, compassion, and respect for other humans.   

Think about this: You know your children are listening to what you say to other drivers. Do you have road rage? They listen to how and what you say to the person at the cash register. Do you say please and thank you? How about when you are talking on your cell phone? Your children are listening to your calls with your friends. Do they hear mean comments, complaints, gossip? Are you ever modeling decency? I am not judging you, I am in this with you!

As a father, I want to raise healthy, engaged, and kind people who add to the world and treat people with respect. Living with three adolescents who are becoming young adults at lightning speed reminds me every single day that I need to practice what I preach.

Will you join me? Let’s all hold ourselves accountable. What we do around the humans we are raising they will do, too.  

1. Avoid talking critically about anyone! If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say it all (Mom was right!).

2. Keep an open mind about why another person might have offended you or hurt you. Perhaps they have other stresses in their life. Give him or her the benefit of the doubt.

3. Be kind to people every day; it is easy to do and you can practice this anywhere. Say hello to people you pass. Hold the door open for someone else. Offer help. Compliment someone.  Kindness is contagious!

4. Try to improve someone else’s day; a small gesture can have a big impact. Try it.

5. Treat all human beings and all living things with dignity and respect, even that pesky fly!

Remember that seeing the best in others and spreading kindness and love, rather than meanness and hate, starts with us. 

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