1. There are 5 seconds of my college career that I never want to forget because they made me realize I’m not who I want to be. Class had just ended and people were shuffling out. One student had accidentally tipped over a chair. Another student passed by and told him how stupid he was for doing it. I stared as he walked away. Shocked at what had happened. I helped pick the chair up and tried to be some kind of comfort to the guy I guess. But after that experience all I could think about was how I didn’t say anything to the bully. And I promised myself that the next time something like that happened, I would say something. And I did.
2. There were 20 minutes by a river where I struggled between minding my own business and doing a small thing for a helpless child. I was out walking in a park and there was a mother there with her son. The boy was maybe 3 or 4 and asking questions- a lot of questions. I heard the mother respond, repeatedly telling her son to “shut the f*ck up”.
Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore. I shouted to the mother and I told her to stop speaking to her child that way.
Did it do anything? Probably not. But, I said something.
3. The 10 minutes I experienced at a shoe store are what inspired this post. I was there for a short while and there was also a small family there. A mother, a father, and a son. I started perusing the shoe selection and as I did I couldn’t help but hear the exchanges between the family. For some reason the mother seemed to be extremely unhappy, irritated by something, and speaking very rudely.
I continued looking at shoes. But- I couldn’t NOT hear the harsh tones of voice, the child speaking calmly, and the mother responding harshly and obnoxiously. This wasn’t just a case of a tired impatient mom. It was a woman who had no respect or care for how she was treating her husband and her son.
The biggest moment was when the mother again said something rude and harsh. This time, the child responded in the same way. And the child was reprimanded for it.
“Why can’t I act that way? You’re acting that way so why can’t I?”
“Because you’re a kid. You don’t get to.”
In the shoe store I didn’t say anything. But after I left there I thought about what had happened.
I thought of what might happen to the boy. What was going on in his mind. I thought of how he was being treated and how it was impacting him mentally and emotionally. I wondered if he was physically abused too. I wondered who he is going to grow up to be.
I wondered if he'll grow up to be the guy at school who rips a fellow student apart for accidentally tipping over a chair.
I was thinking about all these things.
And I wished I had said something.
We know that adults have issues respecting other adults. We see this happen. We try to spread kindness, be better people. Avoid disrespect. Be a decent human. But how often do people think about how they are disrespecting children?
Are we seeing kids as human beings who deserve respect or as things that annoy us and need to be silenced?
Are we leading by example and showing children respect so that they can learn what it feels like to be respected and learn what it looks like to give respect?
Are we encouraging children?
Are we realizing our children will model our behavior?
Are you someone a child looks up to?
I don’t have the answers to these questions for everyone. But I do know that,
We can think about respecting children too.
We can realize the value and wonder of the kids around us.
We can lead by example and show children respect. And in turn, they’ll become respectful.
We can encourage children.
We can realize that our behavior impacts their choices.
We can be people that children look up to. YOU can be someone that children look up to.
Our tiny humans need us to help them navigate this big world. And if we want children to show respect, we need to first show them what it is.
Do you have your own stories, thoughts, or questions? Please share in the comments below! Join the conversation. :)
Love and Light,
photo credit: 55Laney69 > photopin.com