What happens when our children hear us degrade, insult and show a general lack of respect for someone? Let me tell you another story.
I was once in a home where the teenage son was degrading his history teacher. He went on about how the man was and idiot, how he knew nothing. The teenager's attitude was that he didn't have to listen to a thing the man said because he thought he was an idiot--and that's why he would get up and walk out of class whenever he felt like it. I was appalled. Truly. I began to defend the teacher when the teenage son came back with an example of a lesson that the teacher had recently taught. As heard about the lesson I realized that I had had that lesson....in a college history course, and it was one of my favorite I had ever sat through.
At this point I said to the teenager, "Wow! I'm really impressed. I learned that in a college US History class and it was a fantastic way to learn that material. I think your teacher is trying to keep things interesting and is challenging you. Sounds like he has a lot of faith in you guys and expects a lot. That's awesome."
At this point the father breaks in, "No, we met him at the open house. He's weird. The teacher is an idiot."
Well folks, there's the problem. Rather than teaching a child respect for a position or office the parent degraded the teacher in front of the child, validating the child's behavior. After that it was no surprise to me that the teenager was struggling to graduate because he saw no value in a high school education--what could anyone who teaches high school teach him?
Lack of respect. I see it so often. What good does it do us to teach our children that we can degrade and dismiss people simply because we don't agree with their ideas or ways? Such behavior creates a society of rudeness, of unkind acts, of feelings of superiority over others.
And now, to the point.....
I had no problem with President Obama's school speech (a little behind the times, I know... but this post has been percolating). While I may not agree with all of his politics, he's the President of the United States. I respect that office and the authority that comes with it. Which means what? That if I had a child whose district/school/teacher wanted them to watch the speech I'd have let him. I wouldn't have made a to-do beforehand.
Rather, that afternoon I would've have discussed the speech with my child; asked what value he saw in it. Why did he think the President wanted to address school children? How did it make him feel? What did his teacher have to say about it?
Because that, my friends, is how we teach our children to think and to make choices. Hiding them under a bushel will never allow them to shine. We must teach our children to function in the world by having respect for others.
It's always a police-officer and never a "cop".
I will encourage my children to work within their teachers' framework.
They will address my friends as Mr. & Mrs. or Brother & Sister.
I will always call him PRESIDENT Obama.
And so I will keep on.....
Because it's about creating a better world by respecting each other.