words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Why kids deserve respect

Respect is a tricky thing.respect

Yet it seems to be twisted into a definition that suits anyone.

We need to respect their decisions

We need to respect their beliefs

We need to respect their right to express themselves

We need to respect the way they live their life.

What does it really mean?

Respect can be defined as:

  • A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

OR

  • Due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others.

While a lot of people talk about the need for respect, I don’t believe many people practice it anymore.

Instead there seems to be too much focus on ‘doing what makes you happy’, ‘living for the moment’ and forgetting about how that impacts on other people.

I’m not saying that you need to do what others want you to, or go and become a ‘people pleaser’.

What I am saying, is that we need to think about the impact our actions may have on other people — especially our kids.

Think about those ‘high profile celebrities’ who have been in the news lately, for their questionable actions. I am not going to name them, simply because I believe the reason they are engaging in their questionable behaviour is to gain publicity and get people talking about them.

However, if I used the words, ‘twerking’ and ‘joint-smoking’, I’m sure you know one of whom I am referring to.

Yet she is one of many. Listen to the lyrics of many popular songs, or watch the video that accompanies them, and there is often very little respect to be found.

Half-naked men and women, dancing around (often gyrating), singing about strip clubs, alcohol, and drugs. All the while objectifying women (and men), and passing it off as entertainment.

Think about some of our ‘sports stars’. Yes, they may be great at their sport, but are they really role models we want for our kids? Footy players getting drunk, or on charges of rape; a tennis star in trouble for hooning; a prominent golfer caught cheating on his wife a few years back. Yet these are the very people who are held up to be ‘heroes’.

TV shows are now being made from footage of drunken, foul-mouthed, disrespectful thugs having brushes with the law. While they may be televised after prime-time, they are still advertised when children watch TV. Do they really need to see that? Besides, are we really that desperate that we have to resort to that kind of stuff? Surely our combined level of intelligence isn’t that low.

What is going on?

Our kids are looking up to these people. What kind of qualities are these people exhibiting, that results in a feeling of deep admiration for them? Where is the regard for the rights and feelings of our children?

When we ‘normalise’ cheating, getting drunk or engaging in anti-social behaviour, our children learn to do the same. When film clips objectify women (and men) as objects, our kids learn to do the same.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my son growing up to only see value in a woman for what she looks like and how sexually attractive she is.

I certainly don’t want my daughter growing up to believe that the only worth she has is to be found in men ogling her, or being sexually available.

When we show footage of people doing drugs and making it look cool, then our kids want to do the same thing and be ‘cool’ too. It’s quite confusing for them to be told about the dangers of drugs on one hand, but then be shown footage of a celebrity lighting up a joint.

Parenting is not easy. Forget about the sleepless nights and toilet training — that’s a piece of cake.

The harder stuff is trying to teach a child right from wrong and to guide their moral compass. We are trying to equip our kids to negotiate the minefield of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, anti-social behaviour, cheating, lying, and selfish behaviour. Yet in one foul swoop, another person’s actions can call into question everything we have taught.

As children get older, the outside world has more influence on them. Yet people wonder ‘what is going on with kids these days?’ Well, kids model what they see, and ‘respectful’ is not how I would describe our current society.

Many forget that the children of today will grow up to be adults. What we teach them about the world, and their place in it, is a very big deal.

If our kids grow up believing that it’s ok to disrespect others, then they will grow up to be disrespectful.

If our children see their role models have no self-respect, then how will they grow up to respect themselves?

If our kids think it’s ok to yell, and scream and swear and carry on when things don’t go their way, then what kind of adults will they make?

If we show our kids that it’s cool to be on drugs and okay to get drunk, then what kind of society are we creating?

If today’s celebrities are all about self-promotion, self-gratification, making money at the expense of others and not interested in the welfare of the people who have made them celebrities, then what hope do our kids have?

So, to all of you out there who thinks that it’s none of my business how you live your life — think again.

Most of the time it is not. However, it is my business if the way you act and behave is disrespectful to my children. It is my business if your actions have a negative impact upon my children. And it is my business if what you are modelling is against what I am teaching my children.

It most certainly is my business, if I have to explain adult-concepts to my children, well before they need to know about them.

Remember, most children don’t ask to see scantily clad women gyrating about. They shouldn’t have to see sex-shops in every suburb advertising their sleazy wares. Most children don’t usually ask to see footage of people doing drugs. And they certainly don’t deserve to be told that their only value in life is to be an ‘object’ for someone else’s gain.

Children are vulnerable. Children are innocent. Children are impressionable. Children are special. Most importantly, they are the future of this country.

Let’s treat them with the respect they deserve.

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