Long ago, people talked to each other… respectfully

Now, we text… And text. Our entire family is engaged in video games. Some of us read, write, and watch old movies, but the net effect is the same. We are entertained by something other than relationships. In doing so, we lose the ability to respect people online while hiding behind a monitor.  

I must be getting old because that is really annoying. We grew up answering a house phone. In fact, we had a protocol. We followed that letter to the law. We learned young, and it was a normal part of our routine.

When my father was several years into retirement, I moved in with my parents while I worked and went through another round of college. I lived with my folks, and once answered the phone, ‘Bill’s Bar and Grill.’ He was retired, after all. 

My dad was apoplectic. Respect and niceties were the norms. Where did they go? And… what was I thinking?  

I have a visceral reaction these days when my kids text or game while I am speaking. They don’t look at me; they don’t nod in understanding, and one only gets explosive in the middle of my question/answer/communication—at the game he’s playing. His girlfriend talks, texts, and nods to me. Kids can multi-task but there are those times when I feel disrespected. Speaking up helps. Until the next day. Sigh. These things they learn from you and also their peers. 

It’s an uphill battle and being on the losing end is no fun.

How do your kids see you? Is your face planted to the computer, video game, TV, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Facebook, FaceTime, Snapchat, Pinterest, Word Press, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram (or any other I haven’t mentioned) while you try to converse with them? Are they following you?

Depending on their age, pull the plug and put the gadgets that ‘connect’ them to their friends in a safe. I mean, yours first. Write that rule, and again, walk the talk. Be respectful of your elders. You earn respect by giving your elders that, and in return, they will acknowledge your wisdom. Your kids, remember, will emulate you.

Joyful hipster girl happy to use wireless connection in park. Stylish young woman in casual using smartphone outdoors. Wi Fi in public space concept

If you see your kids (regardless of their age) acting disrespectful, check yourself, first, then speak to your kids—separately. You may chastise them all for the same thing however they will look at each other, point a finger, but not one person will have heard your short discussion on respect. 

They can have their gadgets and social media but at your timeline, not theirs. You’re the adult. I tell folks this repeatedly. Your spouse should support you, and both of you should agree ahead of time. It’s difficult enough to fight off your kids’ peers values and notions of respect. It’s impossible without both parents in agreement and prayer. 

I’ll share a thought from the story of Isaac and Rebekah, both strong and assertive. Rebekah gave birth to Esau and Jacob. Now, this was a true outdoor family. Isaac owned sheep, cattle, and was a hunter. Esau followed suit in the “hunting for game” department while Jacob preferred the family business—ranching.

Rebekah was outspoken in her distaste of the Canaanite women and Jacob, already having obtained his older brother’s inheritance for a bowl of soup, went along with a new scheme, one to haunt Jacob the rest of his life. She told Jacob what to do to get also his father’s blessing. Not only did Esau lose the first son’s inheritance, but he lost the first-born’s blessing. 

This is a big deal in today’s culture. Mom or Dad act like the great buddy, talking around one parent and pitting a child against one or the other, and they inherit bad habits while getting a blessing for bad behavior by tricking or lying to the other parent. 

If your kids watch you treat your parents and elders with a flippant attitude, then how will they learn to respect (fear) the Lord? If your kids feel abandoned because you’re stuck in social media, how will they realize the unending love of God for His creation? If you don’t lovingly correct them when you see the same behaviors from them, how will they understand God’s gentle and realistic discipline? If they see nothing but “good parent, bad parent,” will they see God as chaotic, overbearing on one side and nothing but another buddy on the other? 

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.