Camp Laurus
July 21, 2001
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How to get Respect from new Generations

At 16:00, Ms. Smith has got a meeting with John’s mom. One of many and the month is not over yet. This time he tore apart a classmate’s book and called him names. She’s been dreading this meeting because this boy is an absolute bully to everyone. Not only his classmates or his teachers, but also to his parents judging by his mother’s mortified look. The self-condemnation in her eyes shows awareness which is better than denial and encouragement of this type of behaviour but brings no solution to the problem. How to get respect from the new generations is a timeless topic amongst generations, but recently closer attention has been given to this matter. The evolution of the concept, together with the changing mentalities concerning respect in education and in daily life have been the interest of many articles which have tried to deal with it as extensively as possible. Scientists, specialists or just concerned citizens wonder whether it is true that the new generations have less and less respect for people or values. Where does this huge discrepancy come from and what can be done to fix it? Can we save the new generations from becoming big-headed adults who will perpetuate their lack of values to further generations? One for all, and all for oneFirstly, this generalization is one of the reasons that deepens the generations’ gap and generates more conflict. ‘In my days, you never dared to disrespect your teacher or not give the seat to an older woman on the bus.’ If you close your eyes, it’s like your grandma is sitting right in front of you, right?It is true that these gestures should be common sense but at a closer look, were there no adolescents who would merely ignore the elders on the bus? Were there no children who were a handful for even the most experienced teachers? I believe there were. Just as today. Just as 80 years ago. Has the situation worsened in the last decade? Perhaps. Or perhaps the constant presence of social media in our lives has given this topic more publicity than before. And why did most youngsters do these acts of gallantry and showed respect to others? Here the answers might be different: because they cared for other human beings or because they were threatened with punishments if their parents found out they disrespected authority. It is easy to just assume that because a group of teens flock, they are identical in mentality and behaviour. This could be one of the facts that makes youngsters more predisposed to rebelling in front of authority. They are struggling to build their personality, but they are constantly roasted by people who forgot about their own teen mistakes. And to be fair, most adults have days when they can’t cope without a huge bucket of wine or a sinful chocolate cake. So why do we expect our teens to be perfect, when we can’t do it?Is it true that new generations no longer respect anyone? But nowadays, the idea of respect from the new generations has changed greatly and one important thing that they realised was that respect must be earned and not given away just because of age or for the privilege of existing as human beings. It makes things more difficult for parents and educators who might not conceive disrespecting authority because serious repercussions would follow. Both sides have valid arguments that can shape up educators’ or parents’ style while empowering teenagers to defend their actions. Youngsters nowadays gravitate around the idea of ‘justice’ and earning your respect is something they see as common sense. However, the other side sees it as not fully possible since teens lack the experience and maturity to make these kinds of judgment thus, they need authority to guide them through the apple picking process. Take your role seriouslyThe irony in letting teens decide for themselves who deserves respect is that whether we like it or not, they are the product of previous generations. Parents (grandparents) and teachers are the pillars of society in terms of educating the new generations and while some might think these are two different areas of education, the reality is that they should actually work closely together. To get respect from the new generations is no piece of cake especially if you’re fighting the battle on your own. This is how parents and teachers might be feeling when they come across various cases of indiscipline, violence and even crime. Of course, it is easier to cast blame on someone else rather than examining your own educating style, but facts don’t lie. Things are getting out of hand and the notion of respect from young generations is losing its meaning. Parents no longer have the time to deal with their children’s education because they are too busy making a living or giving their kids all the things they THINK they need. On the other hand, teachers are faced with undisciplined children who don’t know the meaning of authority. And since there is no one to report to, teachers lose their parents punishment card. It’s a vicious bubble that affects all the members of a society and generates disappointment all around. How to get respect from the new generations? But enough crying over spilt milk. Criticizing each other is not going to bring us the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What will, though? How can we get respect from the new generations while shaping well-balanced human beings and correcting past mistakes? Usually parents have the largest amount of influence over their children’s development simply because they are the ones who spend most of their time with them. Respect is taught every day, but the basis is established in early ages. It takes time – and patience. Respect is not going to magically appear after one day of behaving well. Time creates habits and patience is the one that keeps them straight. Of course, this might mean that you need to plant yourself a little valerian garden to face it all. It takes two – respect is not one person’s job. It is in fact everyone’s job and whether we like it or not we live in a society and people’s behaviour influences us. This comes to my mind every time I need to wait for the traffic lights to go green. I often get the urge to cross if there aren’t any cars close, but I stop myself because I know that what I do might affect others. Especially if there are children waiting nearby. It’s up to us to show them how it is done, and it is on us to teach them that even if a flock of people does it, it doesn’t make it right. Stand up for the right thing, even if you stand alone. It takes boundaries – as much as you want to be a modern and hip teacher or parent, don’t fall into the trap of youngsters always liking you. Humans are a mix of emotions and it is impossible for them to keep their feelings constant. But imposing boundaries to our babies is like working with clay: we need to step in when we see they are taking the wrong directions. Although they might resent it, youngsters need limits to keep them centred. John, like any other child who misbehaves, is afraid of feeling alone, thus he provokes grown-ups to set boundaries and guide him towards a safe place where he is not overwhelmed by responsibilities. It takes skills to replace misconduct – why do children continue misbehaving if you have constantly reminded them no to? Because they don’t know what to do instead. It is adults’ job to show them how to replace negativity with more positive patterns. Consistency and perseverance are key to an effective change, so don’t give up. Even in the worse times, remember that the final goal is to bring up rounded adults who will have and teach a respectful attitude. And this makes the whole world better! Ms. Smith will come to terms with the idea that working with John is not going to be easy especially since those who should be his idols are condoning his misconduct. But if she is patient and assertive enough she will get through to him. Will John end up learning respect or will he end up being one more black sheep? The answer depends on how quickly we take measures and we realize that we CAN make a difference if we stick to our guns.

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