Because our culture stresses equality, we forget to teach our children respect for elders. In public schools, there’s a decline in the respect kids show their teachers which may mirror disrespect for parents. Respect naturally flows from honoring the wisdom of older people.
The Israelites were taught to honor their elders: “Rise up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly…” Leviticus 19:32 and “Honor your father and your mother…” Exodus 20:12. Honoring with their hearts is easier for our children if we teach them some outward ways to show honor. Here are some suggestions:
- Require children to refer to adults as “Mr.” and “Mrs.”
- Teach children to call relatives by terms such as “Aunt Jane” and “Grandpa.”
- Teen such as babysitters may be called “Miss Christy” or “Mr. Jim.”
- An adult friend of the family can be called a name like babysitters or given the title Aunt or Uncle.
- Teach children social graces that show respect such as standing when an adult enters the room, offering a chair to an older person, waiting for permission to interrupt an adult conversation, and saying “Ma’am” and “Sir.”
Although this may sound stiff and formal when you begin, remember that you’re not only teaching a small social grace, but you’re teaching your children that they haven’t yet attained the wisdom to place them on an equal level with adults. Not only will your children have manners that endear them to their teachers, but also they will learn that adulthood, with the accompanying wisdom and respect, is something they can look forward to attaining.
Question: How do you handle this in your family? How did you decide what your children will call adults? Is it working? Are there others ways you teach your children to show respect to adults?