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Practicing Respect

a couple 

When I witness the respect shown to one’s elders it warms my heart. This week, when our nephew Andrew visited this weekend, I noted the respect and politeness he showed to not only me, but most important, to his grandmother, my mother-in-law.

I took note as Andrew’s small gestures added up. He waited for his grandmother when we got out of the car, paid for her snacks when she went into the store, and when the cobwebs in the house were driving her nuts, he made sure to remove them all. I believe his kindness and respect has bonded them firmly.

Respect important to me, my husband and our nephew as they should be. As we sat around the living room after dinner, and my mother-in-law recounted her memories, we all listened with interest, wrapping our imaginations around the interpretations of her life. She even started to give us a list of some of the songs, food, and memories that she wants us to share in her honor at her wake. It’s good to know how she wants us to respect, honor, and remember her when we’re no longer together.

As a person who finds parenting to be a cornerstone of our communities, I see teaching and modeling respect to be of primary importance. Clearly, Andrew's parents taught and modeled a deference to elders.

Teaching respect is often more difficult when extended beyond the realm of grandparents, because some strangers seem more difficult to respect than others. Regardless, respect is a practice—the more we place emphasis on it and put energy into it, the more empathy we build into our daily actions. When we practice respect, it enriches our communities and society.

I recently saw a post on Instagram about the anniversary of a woman’s grandfather’s passing: "He was an amazing role model and my hero . . . remembering the importance of giving respect and deference to things and knowledge that came before." I know long after his grandmother is gone, Andrew will have lasting memories of time spent together and the warmth in their hearts connecting.

How do you model and teach respect to the children in your life? What memories do you hold dear of the elders who are no longer alive? How would you like to be remembered? Are you sharing those memories with your loved ones?


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