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Respect Your Elders

I see this thrown around. A LOT. Especially when someone senior behaves badly and is in turn, treated accordingly.

I was raised to treat everyone with neutrality until they prove themselves worthy, or unworthy of respect- regardless of their age/gender/social status... UNLESS they are in a position of absolute authority, in which case, you do not have to respect the person who is behaving badly, you have respect for the position of authority.
My own children are being raised to show neutrality unless and until they can determine whether or not the individual (child, or adult) who is NOT in a position of absolute authority is worthy of respect. This DOES NOT give them a license to behave badly, bad behavior is inexcusable, regardless of age.... Which is why I ask this...

Why the perception that our "elders" in some way are absolutely deserving of respect, regardless of their own behavior?

Is this simply a hold over from christianity that has been impressed upon in our society? Simply shut up and take abuse from our elders, because they are our elders?
I view everyone as equal, simply because you have more years on the earth than I, does not put you in a position of authority.

Answer Question

Asked by ObbyDobbie at 10:26 AM on Jun. 3, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 34 (70,074 Credits)
Answers (38)
  • I agree!

    Answer by older at 10:33 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • I agree with you completely. I do think it is a holdover from that commandment to honor thy father and thy mother. But I tell you what, I've known some fathers and mothers who absolutely did not deserve to be honored, least of all by their children. My parents made me call everyone "Sir" or "Ma'am" or "Mr/Mrs", and I always wondered... what makes them better than me? Why don't they have to call me "miss"? I don't deserve any respect because I'm young?

    Answer by Ati_13 at 10:34 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • I'm a christian and I don't believe it's a hold over from Christianity. It's from old school days. When children were to be seen and not heard. I've taught my kids not to be pushovers. Respect is a thing that's earned not just given. Age does not excuse bad manners or bad behaviour towards others. I've known some pretty mean old farts. I do teach them not to interrupt conversations and some adult conversations are simply none of their business. I do believe also that there are times for their growth, experience and learning they SHOULD be involved in adult conversations to learn what the future holds.

    Answer by Cenedra64 at 10:36 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Here we go with silly assumptions again. Christianity does NOT encourage people to excuse bad behavior just because someone is an elder. The majority of us though are very much in favor of not putting an expiration date on people. Societies tendency to act like an individual is too stupid and out dated to be of any use once they reach a certain age is what I am against. It is a sickening behavior and our elders deserve our respect for the lives they have lived, the experiences they have had, and the wisdom they may be able to impart.


    Answer by asmcbride at 10:37 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • I agree with you completely. (c: Age does not give a person the right to act like a jerk.

    Answer by scout_mom at 10:37 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Ati- I encountered that this year with one of my children's teachers. She was *demanding* that all of the children respond with a 'Ma'am' or 'Sir' EVERY time they were addressed by an adult. I flat out told her that my son was NEVER to speak to an adult in that manner, unless he was addressing a police officer, or was in the military.

    My children need to know, to understand that not every adult they encounter is worthy of respect. That they can be polite without making themselves vulnerable, that it is in no way disrespectful NOT to answer 'Ma'am' or 'Sir'. Too many children become victims because they were taught to yield respect to ALL adults.

    Comment by ObbyDobbie (original poster) at 10:39 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Age has nothing to do with how old a person is.
    Respect your elders means don't talk back infront of them, treat them how u would want to be treated( if u misbehaved how would u expect to be treated), help them when they need it so on.
    It doesn't mean bow down and kiss their feet because they are old.

    Answer by Kimkh at 10:39 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • I agree as well. Just cause your old dosnt give you an automatic right to respect from others, especially when they act like an ass. DO unto others as they do on to you!!! Fuck with the bull? You get the horns!!!

    Answer by vbruno at 10:40 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • It's not just the Christians that have an "honour you elders" rule. Most, if not all, cultures and traditions honours those that have gone before. I think it's because they helped to give us life, raise us, provide for us and, in an ideal situation, sacrificed for our well-being and survival. I agree that just because you are an elder doesn't give you a free pass to act like a jerk, there are also laws/commandment/social norms that encourage compassion, acceptance and patience with the young.

    Answer by tobys.mommy at 10:43 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Asmcbride- You're so off topic, I don't know where to begin.

    No. JUST because you are elderly, does not grant you an automatic "respect card". Just because you've lived a long life, does not make you wise.
    Nowhere did I infer that people have an 'expiration date'. That they should be swept under the rug, forgotten about. etc. YOU impled that all on your own.

    Comment by ObbyDobbie (original poster) at 10:43 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

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