Respect: Show, Don’t Tell

Thanks to a hectic week I never got around to posting last Monday’s column, but here it is: on the importance of teaching our kids respect – by showing it to others.

I’ve had some interesting conversations this week on whether we are, in fact, less respectful today than we used to be. I don’t know if the world’s worse off now than it was a generation or two ago, but I do think there’s a downside to everyone saying what they think all the time. The ironic thing about “social media” is it can turn us into narcissists who broadcast our every thought and deed. Rather than making us more social, it often exposes all the ugly, divisive things people think on a regular basis.

I definitely think it adds a layer of challenge to parenting. When I was a kid, my parents never had to lecture me about not posting inappropriate pictures of myself where thousands of people could see them. But it’s a talk I’ll probably have to have with my kids at some point.

Yet the best thing I can do is model respect, in the way I treat my kids and other people, in person and online. That’s where I think so many grownups fall down. I have a hard time envisioning how we’ll eradicate bullying and cyberbullying among teenagers when so many adults write terrible things about each other online. The problem isn’t limited to our kids. It starts with us.

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