Learning to respect others who are different than ourselves

Respect is one of the virtues that every culture in the world, in families, communities, countries all agree is essential to raising the trust and peace in our relationships. Each of those cultures may have a different way of demonstrating respect, just as they may have different ways of recognizing a Higher Source, celebrating families, or rituals. So how do we react when faced with an individual, family, community or country that is different than our own?

In our own family, the words, comments, and thoughts we express guide our children to develop their beliefs about those that are different than themselves. When asked about the differences in other cultures, how do we respond to them? What assumptions do we lead our children to with our attitude about those who are different?

One thought to help each family guide their family towards peaceful relationships is to look for what similarities exist in the cultures that are different than ours. Seeing similarities helps us to understand the humanity in all. Families around the world all want their children to be safe, healthy, successful and happy. What that means or what it looks like in each culture will undoubtedly be different, and that is a teaching moment as we use empathy in our discussions.

In a world that seems to be getting smaller and increasingly interdependent, we each have a responsibility to guide those that we lead or influence to seeing those that are different from ourselves as humans with needs, feelings, hopes and desires that at their foundation are more similar to our own than they are different. Without respect for each other expressed with kindness and tact, caring and flexibility we will find ourselves lost of our dignity and unable to unite under the highest virtue of all, love.

Bringing out the best in our children and ourselves is our responsibility begins with seeing the best in our children. Name the virtues that you see in your children and acknowledge them for them for their goodness. Notice how they react when you know and name their respect, determination, cooperation or one of the other 100 virtues listed. Get your list by clicking here.    https://goo.gl/7wid8q

Children can learn to respect property and surroundings

There was an Indian tribal leader named Chief Dan George is quoted as saying, “There is a longing among all people and creatures to have a sense of purpose and worth. To satisfy that common longing in all of us, we must respect each other.” The respect we have for each other and ourselves goes beyond just the manners we display and the courteous words we speak. Respect for physical items we value and that others value is another way of honoring each other.

All of us have physical items that are special to us. They may not be expensive items; they may have sentimental value. A young child may have created a drawing or card they want to give to their mom that they take special care to deliver in excellent condition. An older child may have a unique piece of jewelry or a journal that they prize because a grandparent gave it to them. Adults may have photographs handed down through the family that is irreplaceable and represent special memories. We show these items respect by the way we care and protect them.

The physical things that we value are shown respect by the boundaries set up around them. We may not want others to play with individual possessions, or we do not lend the item out to others. Now imagine if you are visiting friends home. Their family has things that they also value, we can show respect by asking permission before touching. We would even ask if it is okay to go into specific rooms, upstairs, downstairs, or sit on the furniture. We show respect by honoring what others value.

One other area of respect sometimes overlooked at times is the environment or surroundings we are in with other people. Respect in school with classmates, restaurants with other patrons, in sports arenas or even just in the car with the family. How we act in those situations will either bring us honor for treating others like they matter or not. In school taking turns for answering questions, doing our work and not looking at other papers is giving dignity deserved to our classmates and teachers.

In a restaurant, sitting in our seat till the family is ready to go home, keeping our voice down, leaving screens like phone or tablets off, speaking respectfully with the servers all show respect to both our family and those dining with us. No matter where we are, sports arena or a car, what is needed by others to perform their tasks with full attention requires that we remember our manners and use courtesy appropriate for the situation.

No matter where we are or who we are with, everyone around us matters. The dignity everyone deserves calls on us to show respect. As a family, have you spelled out what respect looks like in different situations for your family? Do your children know what the expectations are in different circumstances and have you named it ‘respect’? Naming and not shaming each other, setting clear boundaries while honoring each other and mindful regard for the needs for ourselves and others is respect.

Learn to show respect for yourself

How do we learn to respect others? We begin by developing respect for ourselves. When we have self-respect, we are saying to ourselves and others that we matter also. We are willing to stand up for what is best for our bodies, mind and emotional well-being. Self-discipline, assertiveness, and moderation in all areas of life are how we show respect for ourselves.

Self-respect begins with how you treat our body:

Nutrition:  What kind of foods are you eating on a regular basis? Are you getting the vitamins from the vegetables and fruits you eat? Are the meals you eat balanced and in proportion with calorie intake appropriate to our activity and weight? Are you drinking enough water to keep you hydrated and our brain alert?

Sleep: Is your sleep habits regular and are you getting the right amount of sleep for your age and activity? Even adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to operate at their best and children need even more. Eliminating the distractions at bedtime and having a regular schedule that you keep even on the weekend shows you are respectful of our need for sleep.

Exercise: Exercise three times a week, both weight bearing and cardio are what is going to keep our bones healthy and our heart healthy. Taking the time to walk or just taking the stairs when you can all add up to helping you live longer. Exercise is not only for the body though. It is also for the brain. Reading, using your creativity, solving puzzles and continuing to learn keeps our mind from inactivity that can lead to severe issues.

Avoiding unhealthy risks: While healthy or good risks are a part of growth and meeting challenges for yourself, unhealthy risks like smoking, drugs, or anything that would harm our mind or body need to be removed or never started. Doing so shows respect for ourselves and our loved ones. All of us want to do what we can to be here with and for our family as much as possible.

Self-respect is your emotional well being too:

Goal-setting: No matter our age, young and old, having goals for what you would like to learn, challenges to overcome or a mission/purpose all show that you believe in your unique gifts and talents given to you by the Universe are to be used for the good of humanity. Starting at a young age, setting goals and learning to overcome the challenges helps us become resilient, and adults goal setting keeps us involved in living a full, happy life.

Self-talk: Respect for self by the way you speak to and about your person can build confidence and self-esteem. If you find you call yourself a name when you mess up, you soon begin to believe that you are not valuable to others. Using positive self-talk, encouraging ourselves to keep moving forward, looking for what you need versus what you do not, helps you to grow. Just asking, what virtue do I need at this moment to make a positive impact, will change how you feel about who you are and want to be.

Learning to say no to the things that do not help you to grow or be a better person and yes to the important things and people in your life shows that you respect yourself. Growth in life takes examination and reflection on taking care of ourselves, doing so on a regular basis while you work on those areas that you need to grow. Doing so sets the example for those that look up to us and might be imitating the way you act, speak and think.

Establishing respect as an important virtue in family

In a world where there are constant examples of disrespect in words and actions that is fed to us in entertainment, social media, and community leaders, it is becoming more difficult each year to find worthy examples of respect for our children and ourselves. Respect is the most common virtue that parents want to see from their children and so we want to understand and identify what it looks like in our family and society.

Respect, like all virtues, crosses all cultural barriers as a way of showing others that we value them. However, like all virtues what it looks like, how it is seen demonstrated is different in every culture. For individuals, families, institutions like school or churches, or in national societies, what is seen as respect in one may very well be different in another.

In my family, one way that we have established as showing respect for each family member is by never leaving the house without telling both children and adults that we are going and when we expect to return. In other families that may not be as important as another way of showing respect to each other.

Once we identify what respect looks like in our family, everyone in the family must be held accountable for demonstrating this virtue in the way it is decided on to be shown. Otherwise, our children will feel like they are being singled out for particular rules that do not apply to the adults. To demonstrate this further, if you would like for your children to understand that respectful language includes not yelling or cursing, then as the parent we must be careful not to scream or curse.

Children will follow our example much faster than the instructions we give them with words. They want to grow up, be an adult and do what adults do and they learn what that looks like primarily from parents and also what they see in the world around them. How do we find and draw respect out of our children?

To begin we establish what it looks like for our family. Are we helpful to each other? Then we can say we show respect in our family by helping each other and sharing the responsibilities in the home. Is respect the use of courteous words and manners? Then we establish the behaviors that we would like to see as ‘respectful’ and call on ourselves and them to use polite words. Instead of saying “what do we say?” when it would be courteous to say thank you, we ask them “How do we show respect when someone gives us a gift?” Now we are guiding them to connect respect with courteous words and manners and not just saying the words that please the parents.

In all of this though as leaders in the family we are going to set the example by following what we have established as our family’s way of showing respect. There are other aspects of respect that are equally important. We will discuss them as the month continues including, respect for ourselves, property and environment as well as for those around us that have different cultures and ways of showing respect.
Take some time this month to discuss as a family what respect looks like in your family. Agree to practice respect in those ways with each other and those outside the household. Doing so will develop the virtue of respect for each family member and your family will be known for respect.

Gifts of Character: Respect – The definition

Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Respect. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students:  “I treat you and me like we matter!”

Older students:  Behaving in ways that show that we are all worthy of care, attention, and consideration.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2-weeks.

Respect for role models to role modeling

how-to-be-a-dad-Role-Model-24-7-365It is funny how we went from talking about respect for ourselves to respect for others and property to who we respect and being a role model.  All of us not only have people we admire, but we are looked up to and admired by others.  Even if we are a child in the family, the younger children look up to the older ones – and they many time pattern themselves after them.  At the very least they want to do everything that the older one does.

In school the younger students look at the older ones and determine for themselves how they should be acting.  In sports or in martial arts classes, those with less experience look up to those with more to determine how much effort it takes to get to a higher level.  Every parent is the ultimate role model for their children, and I reminded the kids and parents this week that children will all grow up and have many of the same habits and ways that their parents have.  Of course there was a groan from many of the kids – even after they had said that their parents were their role model.  But it is true.  How many of us adults find ourselves sounding just like our parents in some way?

The reminder I gave to the kids this week: 

  • When choosing a role model or someone you admire, be careful not to follow blindly.  While they may have some areas of their life that are admirable, there may be other parts that are not.  Always check in with yourself and see if the example they are setting fit with your morals, values and ethics.
  • Knowing that you are a role model – even without knowing for whom – every decision, every behavior, every choice, we should be asking ourselves, ‘is this the way we would want others to behave’.  Is this choice one I would recommend to a person I was mentoring.

These thoughts may even cross the mind of every parent and adult.  This is what makes parenting so difficult and such a heavy responsibility.  Both your own children and other children are watching you, me and others.  Are we making choices and behaving in a manner that we would like to see our children behave now or when they are parents?