Tag Archives: Respect

Why You Don’t Have to Respect Your Elders

This post was originally published in October of 2011.

Respect your elders!

We’ve all heard this.

But why should anyone be afforded more (or less) respect because of something as out of our control as the date and time we entered this world?

If I told you Bob is 60 years old and Susanna is 15 could you tell me which one of these people is kinder? more compassionate? wiser? more loving?

Yes, sometimes people do grow wiser with age but it isn’t an automatic process.

I’ve known “Bobs” (both male and female) who lived the same year over and over again, never applying lessons learned from one day to the next. There have also been “Susannas” who tumble out of childhood with more wisdom and common sense than most people three or four times their age.

Story Time

Drew and I spent a week visiting my parents and siblings a few summers ago when our nephew, Aiden, was a toddler. At the end of the visit I asked for a hug. He said no. Our last visit had been when Aiden was an infant and it was completely understandable that he’d be a little shy. These things happen when families are geographically scattered.

I also couldn’t imagine pushing this issue simply because I happened to be a couple of decades older. Being a child doesn’t mean that one has to do everything adults want. Yes, there are times when Aiden’s parents made and make decisions that he isn’t developmentally ready to take responsibility for yet but even a toddler is still his or her own person.

And a funny thing happened a few minutes later: he leaned over and gave me a hug after all.


…is for everyone: the Prime Minister, the homeless person sitting on the corner, your 88 year old grandmother and your two year old son or daughter all deserve a basic level of respect simply because they are fellow human beings.

It makes no sense to withhold this basic respect (or dribble out more of it) based on how old someone is or what has happened in their life so far.

…is earned. But, yes, respect is also something we can earn more of based on what we do and how we treat others.

Someone who is courteous, kind and generous is almost always going to be more respected and well-liked by those around them than someone who who is rude, selfish and cruel.

…cannot be demanded. In fact, demanding that someone respect you (outside of a rare handful of situations) is one of the fastest ways to lose it. It would be like walking up to a significant other, close family member or friend and saying, “I demand that you love me!”

Whatever emotions or behaviours that are dredged up may give the appearance of love or respect but you can never attract the real thing through force.

Am I saying that we should disrespect our elders?


But don’t let something as out of our control as age determine who deserves your respect.

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How to Respect People Who Don’t Respect You

Photo by Agiorgio.

Photo by Agiorgio.

Someone recently found On the Other Hand through an Internet search for this phrase. Most of my readers are from the States, so I’m expecting traffic to be lighter than usual today and tomorrow as they celebrate Independence Day. I thought it would be fun to talk about this for those of you who are still around.

My answer is as follows:

Respect is a two-way street, and I’ve learned that often people who have serious issues with giving it away are also misers emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially.

I’d give this person the same basic level of respect I have for all humans, but a red flag like this one would make me keep my distance. To me it makes no sense to get close to someone who clearly does not have my best interests at heart.

Also remember that most folks are kind and respectful.

Why not focus the bulk of your time and energy on the good people in this world? By all means be kind to people who won’t reciprocate..but don’t give them more energy than you can spare. Just like flight attendants always say in the safety lecture before a flight takes off, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else.

Readers, how would you answer this question?


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Is It Ok to Not Like Kids?

A response to I Don’t Like Kids. There, I Said It

I actually agree with much of what Nissa has to say on this subject. Many years ago I decided to never become a mother for the same reasons she mentions: a complete lack of interest in parenting, a strong preference for a quiet, orderly adulthood and a desire to not add to the seven billion+ humans already in existence. To be honest I don’t think life on earth is going to be pleasant for anyone in 50-100 years and I’d rather not be responsible for creating one or more people who would still be alive if and when ecosystems collapse.

It makes me cringe when other Childfree adults say they don’t like children, though. Let’s substitute a few other groups in that sentence. Is it ok to say you just don’t like black people? Bisexuals? Women? Mormons? New Democrats?

Any group will include members who do things others find irritating but it’s counterproductive and unethical to punish everyone for something one person said or did. Not all children are noisy or distracting. My favourite activity as soon as I learned how to read was picking a good book and curling up to read behind the couch or underneath my grandmother’s piano while the adults talked.

Occasionally new grown-ups treated me like a nuisance because they assumed I couldn’t sit still and be quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth and being treated differently based on their pre-conceived expectations hurt. Now that I’m an adult I see no reason to say, “I don’t like kids!” (Or the equally inane, “I love kids!”)

Specific behaviours may be annoying or endearing but there will always be children in this world who are nothing like your ideas of them.

A few years ago a romantic dinner with my husband was marred by a table full of demanding, shrieking…businessmen. Every man at that table was so drunk he didn’t realize how loud their table was or that not everyone found them amusing.

Kids are individuals. I adore some of them, like others, and have met a small handful that I never want to meet again but the same can be said for Christians, lesbians, bloggers, cyclists, and librarians . 😉


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