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Respect. It's a heavy word, isn't it?

The Mr. and I were debating something last night, and I wanted to see what the general feeling about respect is.

I'm a firm believer that respect is earned. While you should treat everyone well, respect itself isn't something that is handed out. Respect is an important, serious, important thing that only people whom I trust and have "proven" themselves to me, have earned.

The Mr., on the other hand, believes that you should respect those who are older than you, by age and experience, alone. Regardless of if you just met them 30 seconds ago.

I liken trust and respect together. I don't trust easily...maybe it's a defense mechanism, but I'd hate to trust easily and then be burned, or worse, have my children hurt. I feel the same about respect. How can I respect someone I just met without knowing his character? How do I know that he's not some pedophile or serial killer who CERTAINLY wouldn't deserve my (or anyone else's, for that matter) respect?

Now, I DO feel that people deserve to be treated with the Golden Rule...always have, always will. I expect my children to be kind to others and to be respectFUL to their elders (teachers, coaches, etc.), but I don't expect them to outright RESPECT people out of virtue.

What's your policy? Respect your elders always, no matter what? Or do people have to earn your respect?

Deep in marital strife (okay, not really),


  1. I think I'm a little on your side. I certainly strive to treat everyone with kindness (until they don't deserve it anymore), but I'm not sure someone gets my "respect" at first meeting. Like you said, that has to be earned --- much like trust.

  2. Well, my feeling is that TREATING someone with respect is not exactly the same as respecting them. For instance, if I were to meet someone who holds an important position (a politician or a world leader, maybe) whose viewpoints and beliefs I don't happen to share or believe in, I would still treat them with respect for the position they hold even if I don't necessarily respect the person holding it. Clear as mud? ;)

    I teach my kids to respect their elders, therefore I have to model that behavior as well. If they are mistreated or disrespected in some way by a person I've told them to show respect, then we talk about it. I just want them to understand that certain behaviors are expected of them, and that usually those behaviors pay off in kind. When they don't, it is a life lesson.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not perfect. I'm also quite talented at being disrespectful when it's earned. ;)

  3. I'm with you. I think respecting someone and treating someone respectfully are two different things, the latter being like the golden rule. I think that's where people get confused.

    I treat my elders respectfully, I treat all people respectfully - until they give me a reason not to of course. I feel that people do need to earn respect because like you said, you can't just go around respecting people and have them hurt you, because as sad as it is, people hurt people and you can't just trust that they won't until they've earned that as well.

  4. I approach trust and respect differently. To me, trust is absolutely something that has to be earned. However, I think I'm on your husband's side about respect! I tend to respect people who are older than me, in positions of authority, etc. no matter what.

  5. I see both sides here easily. The way I see it, we all deserve some respect, especially if we just met someone. If we don't give respect at the beginning to me that's like calling some guilty without proving it first. Then as you get to know them, they can lose that respect through their actions. But I believe we all desrve each others respect when first meeting.

  6. This is difficult because if you view respect as a matter of the heart it is clearly something to be earned but if you view respect as a behavior then it is something that needs to be given regardless of the recipient.

    Scripture asks us to "Show proper respect to everyone" (1 Peter 2:17) and it also asks us to be people "worthy of respect" and I think that people who naturally respect others; are the kind of people who are "worthy" of respect.

    When it comes to things like 'respect', 'honor' 'love' there is really a very fine line between how a person feels and how they behave. To treat someone respectfully is to respect them and to respect them is to treat them respectfully.

    It seems to me that maybe you two are arguing over whether you prefer to think of respect as a noun or a verb. :)

  7. I agree with you completely. Respect has to be earned. It should not just be handed out willy nilly.

  8. Showing respect and having respect are different. You should always show respect for authority figures, elders, etc. I think you should show respect until you have a reason not to. But you can show respect to someone who you may not have respect for personally. :) They key: just don't be DISrespectful!

  9. I have to lean on your side of the debate. I will treat everyone kindly upon first meeting them however respect is something to be earned.

  10. I totally agree that respect is something that needs to be earned. Of course, as others have pointed out, a lot depends on how you define respect... as an expected behavior or as an emotional response.

    That being said, I do agree that people in positions of authority deserve to be treated with a degree of reverence according to their position, but not necessarily respected as a person... until/unless they've earned it.

    People (including myself) can become a little jaded when they've been burned before, and I'm extremely protective when it comes to my family and close friends. I think that has more to do with how a person defines or perceives respect.

    I'm all about the Golden Rule, and I firmly believe that we need to treat each other with decency and compassion, but it's just a plain fact that some people might be toxic in their very core and no matter how we treat them they will never appreciate or reciprocate. How is a person like that deserving of my respect?

    Great post. (sorry for the rambling!)
    ~Mrs B

  11. Good question, M! I think it depends on WHO you're talking about. I respect my husband no matter what- out of virtue. My son respects his elders, teachers, pastor, etc.because of their position to him. But he aslo respects himself, and is told tht if he feels "wierd" about something to go with is gut. I'm always (well...I TRY always) to be respectful of others, but that doesn't always mean liking them or making them an authority in my book.

  12. I'm on both sides. I think children should respect their elders, until shown that person is not worthy of respect. As an adult, who as a child was not treated well by many adults, I don't believe that, once a person is proven to be not worthy of respect, that a child must continue to give it. Otherwise, they aren't able to protect themselves. However, in general, kids should treat their elders with respect. As an adult, however, you gotta earn it, baby.

  13. I like the distinction between being respectFUL and having real respect. I expect my children to be respectFUL to everyone as shown in their behavior.

    Having real respect is emotional and not something you can require or insist upon.

    We can only mandate behavior, not emotion.

  14. Good question!

    I think there are different levels and definitions of respect... I always respect my elders, authority etc., until they have shown themselves unworthy of respect due to their actions. I firmly believe elders deserve to be respected when you first met them, that's just the way I was raised. I wish more kids/adults these days did the same!

    I tend to separate "respect" and "trust", that would get far too complicated if I didn't. I may respect my elder out of common decency and politeness, but not necessarily have to trust them. Showing respect and love is what makes others happy, and in turn reflects back upon yourself :)

  15. Great post! Now I'm deep in thought....

    Okay, I'm back.

    I agree with you. I think respect has to be earned. Sure, we should "respect" our elders, but that's just more about being polite. Respect is a lot deeper than that. I can respect people on a surface level, but to truly respect someone for who they are, I really need to know them!

  16. With me, people have to earn it. Respect is not going to be freely handed out by me, I don't care how old the person is. Hubs is like your hubby.

  17. I believe that there are different levels of respect. Yes, you have the respect for your elders. (And most of that is manners and Southern Hospitality) But then, there's a deeper level of respect that's earned. I am definitely with you! :)

  18. DITTO to Laura...I feel Exactly the same!
    Laura Darling said...
    I approach trust and respect differently. To me, trust is absolutely something that has to be earned. However, I think I'm on your husband's side about respect! I tend to respect people who are older than me, in positions of authority, etc. no matter what.

  19. You summed it up nicely in your Disclaimer about the comment welcome thoughts as long as they are can have common courtesy to your elders and show them a respect for being older and hopefully wiser (such as teachers, other parents..etc)...but RESPECT must be earned. It means

    1re·spect noun \ri-╦łspekt\
    Definition of RESPECT

    1: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation
    2: an act of giving particular attention : consideration
    a : high or special regard : esteem
    b : the quality or state of being esteemed

    so you can give respect to someone without them automatically being of HIGH or special you are giving consideration until they EARN the honor of being in HIgh or special regard...
    THERE..that is how you explain it to your husband


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