Respect Authority

We should all teach our kids to respect authority. There is nothing worse than seeing a kid in school talk back to a teacher or just blatantly not do what is asked of them.

Several years ago, when our youngest was in high school, she kept complaining about one of her classes. The complaining got so intense that one day I decided to go to the school, sign in, and sit in the class. I was shocked to see the DISRESPECT that was ruling the classroom. NO wonder Collins was so frustrated. I couldn’t even stay for the whole hour and half because I thought I was going to lose it. Kids would talk back. Some would just get out of their seats and walk around and two were sleeping. Needless to say, when I left the classroom I headed straight to the principal’s office to express my serious concerns. It didn’t take but 24 hours before the problem was rectified. I was so thankful to be able to voice my concerns and see them heard.

At the time, I felt I had done the right thing but looking back I see I really made a parenting mistake. I missed a teachable moment. Allow me to explain.

One of the greatest things we can teach our children is how to “speak up!” and CONFRONT WRONG. I am in the process, now that our kids are in college and in the work place, of stepping up in areas that I wasn’t so good at in parenting. Retracing my steps now, I would have gone and observed but would have avoided going to the principal’s office myself. If the same thing happened today, I would have asked Collins to go to the principal and express her concern and, if needed, I would follow up. Yes, I am a “get ‘er” done kind of person. The classroom situation was a BIG PROBLEM, but the lesson missed was teaching Collins how to confront wrong and speak up. In parenting, I was quick to teach our children to look people in the eye when they were being spoken to (respect), to say Yes sir and NO sir, and to do what they were told. Stressing the importance of doing it completely and immediately when they were asked by an authority figure. Respect was constantly being taught in our home. NO regrets there at all!!

There is one very “visible thing” that stands out. We missed teaching our kids how to respect themselves! WE all have a “sensor” that I believe was put inside of us by God. That sensor tells us to defend ourselves when wrong is being done. When wrong happens, it makes us angry, sometimes afraid.

Many times we look at scripture and read passages such as ones in Matthew about “turning the other cheek” or “giving someone your cloak when they have sued you and have already taken your shirt” and think we should do nothing. We often MISINTERPRET scripture. God did not create us to allow others to continually mistreat us or to have us turn from blatant wrong. Whether our children are being mistreated by their peers or adults, wrong is wrong and should be addressed. There are obvious ways to teach children to “properly” and “respectfully” address wrong. We have got to teach our children while they are growing up how to “address wrong,” even if they have to address those in authority. We have to teach them how to “guard their heart!” Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” God wants us to guard our heart, and in doing that, we cannot allow anyone to cross certain boundaries without confronting. Allow me to elaborate on my own personal experience.

Just out of college while waiting to compete for Miss South Carolina, I took a temporary job as an administrative assistant in Columbia. I was young, very young. Back then the term, “sexual harassment,” was NOT A TERM. If it was, I had never heard of it. I can remember calling home after three weeks on the job. I was so naive. I told my mom about the notes left on my desk. I didn’t know anyone in Columbia, so the first several weeks I ate my lunch at my desk. Lunch usually consisted of a pack of peanut butter crackers and a Diet Coke. After I finished lunch, I would go to the restroom and come back to find a note on my desk. One note read, “You can eat crackers in my bed any day!” It wasn’t signed. Upon learning about the notes, my dad called me and told me not to go back to work! So I never went back. Looking back now, I understand the protection of my father, but he did to me what I have done to my kids. I never confronted the “TERRIBLE WRONG!!’ I even had proof with the handwritten notes and I just walked away.

Today, I am OUTRAGED at the adults in authority positions who are stepping over the line and some are “jumping over the line”. At times it is done behind close doors one-on-one with terrible threats. The adult uses their power over the younger adult or kid. In some cases the authority is so smart that he has crafted his bullying or sexual harassment in ways that make it their word against the younger person’s word (no witnesses). When I read about the horrific crimes at Penn State several years ago, I was sickened, especially when I learned that younger adults had “rung the bell” and were NOT HEARD!!! Sickening!! Just know that if you are reading this journal post, things like this are still happening every day at places you would not think and by people whom you would not think. Some are even esteemed in the community, work place or school. On all levels bullying, threatening, and sexual advances are WRONG!! AND IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED!!!!

What is our role? If you are a parent……talk to your kids!!! Seek God. Ask Him for wisdom on how to educate them on acceptable behavior by an authority figure. Do not assume they know!!! Give them your support and the benefit of the doubt. As parents we sometimes have to step in and CONFRONT. Show, by example, how to bring a situation before the Lord and then seek a resolution. 2 Samuel 22:18, “He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.” Psalms is a good resource as well for verses on dealing with “enemies” that need confronting.

There are times when it seems confronting only makes the situation worse. Those are the times when you may have to “drop your hands” and ask God to bring the resolution in His time and in His way. Psalms addresses this as well when the writer asks God to intervene.

As time goes on, and I continually read about wrongs being done, and find our kids experiencing wrongs, I see IT IS A REAL AND GROWING PROBLEM. As recently as in yesterday’s paper, I read about bullying in the NFL. Verbal attacks are the worst. Understand, verbal attacks do not show deep bruises or broken bones. They are worse because there is no measure of the HORRIFIC INJURIES caused by them.

I read a very valuable, professional piece of advice yesterday that I would like to share, “Men… for those of you who still think Emotional abuse is insignificant or trivial… consider the NFL and a Miami Dolphins player that has been banned indefinitely for harassing and intimidating a teammate. Yes, when a person Bullies another by tone of voice or other manipulative tactics, that is called Emotional abuse and when adults stop doing it, children will stop doing it. Emotional abuse is the most wicked of all abuses. Education and consequences are necessary to turn the tide of Bullies.”

Parents, I urge you to STAND UP, PAY ATTENTION, AND DO NOT LET FEAR OF CONSEQUENCES KEEP YOU FROM CONFRONTING WRONGS. YOU ARE SENDING YOUR KIDS THE WRONG MESSAGE. THEY LEARN BY OUR EXAMPLE. WRONG IS WRONG AND SHOULD BE ADDRESSED!!! Understand, you may not see the injury that is being inflicted but trust me, it is!!! Protect your kids by educating them, by teaching them to confront, even if you have to be the one setting the example!! STEP UP and DO THE HARD, RIGHT THING. THE UNCOMFORTABLE. CONFRONT WRONG. DO NOT SWEEP IT UNDER THE RUG.


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