Is being disrespectful a virtue now?

roryanne muldrake By roryanne muldrake, 29th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Parenting

My opinion on what has happened to teaching respect.

Disrespect: Earned or Learned?

A while back, Meghan McCain told a reporter that: "We should never go to war unless it’s the absolute last circumstance."

This is a quote from the daughter of Senator John McCain, a Vietnam Veteran, a POW, and former presidential candidate.

This young woman's father spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton, as a POW during the Vietnam War. I can only imagine what her dad thought about her statement.

To me, it was disrespectful.

Her statement got me thinking about how disrespectful some young people are today. It is not, however, entirely their fault. Not only do parents today teach their children to disrespect others, they also encourage them to do so.

Children today are growing up in an extremely different world than the one I grew up in, in the sixties. As I get older, I tend to forget many things about my childhood, but one thing I remember is what my parents taught me about respect, who to give it to, and when to show it.

It appears the exact opposite is happening today. My experiences prove that there are no guidelines today for the younger generation to follow, as there used to be. "Respect your elders" was an especially important phrase used by parents.

Normally, parents did not have to explain this concept; it was simply something that you did without question.

Today, children question their parents on this and other subjects like the "Golden Rule". This generation wants to know why they have to respect their elders, and they want to know why they should treat people, as they would prefer others treat them.

Something else has changed. Today, kids are indignant when they have nowhere to plug in their laptop. They get upset at their parents when their cell phone battery dies. These and other examples, are all part of the 'spoiled brat' generation we are bringing up today.

Another rule in my house was to be on my best behavior when visiting relatives or friends. My parents did not tell me to do this every time we went to visit. I just knew to do it. I did not ask why it was necessary. We knew not to embarrass our parents.

Meghan McCain not only berated and embarrassed her father, she did it on national television.

My parents also taught me to respect law enforcement, teachers, employers, etc. The behavior of many students, employees, and American citizens today, proves that their parents brought them up to earn and hand out disrespect every chance they get.

Children today are living in a world where the majority of parents believe that if they teach their children to follow certain rules and behave in a certain way, it will stifle their creativity.

I had a friend who worked as a lunchroom aide in a public school. She learned that one of the punishments teachers used to give students, writing 500-1,000 word compositions, was no longer in use because of parents' complaints. Parents claimed this assignment would discourage children from writing later in life.

This is only one example of a punishment parents forced schools to abandon. Teachers lost control of students' behavior in the classroom because parents taught their children to disrespect their teachers.

Parents today also teach their children that employers owe them something and that they do not necessarily have to follow the rules of the workplace. I experienced this first-hand when returning to the workforce after a fifteen-year absence. Fellow employees spent a large part of their day on online social networking sites, checking their emails, and browsing the internet.

Employers tolerate this behavior for fear of a harassment suit or a charge of discrimination. Many people today disrespect their bosses by doing everything in the course of an eight-hour workday, except work.

I have heard high school and college students ridicule, criticize, and argue with members of the older generation, because of their beliefs on a variety of subjects, but mostly on the subjects of love of country, God, and family.

The responses I have read from the younger generation make me wonder if their parents taught them anything growing up. I am not saying that the younger generation has to agree with every one of their elders on every subject, but there are ways to express disagreement without disrespecting the opinion of others, and thereby earning the disrespect of others.

I strongly believe that the younger generation thinks being disrespectful is a virtue equal to patience and tolerance.

Today's Golden Rule appears to be, "Do unto others because, or before, they do it, or will do it to you".


College, High School, Parents, Respect, Teens, Virtue

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author avatar roryanne muldrake
published writer; now working at home; currently writing for Helium and Examiner

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
30th Oct 2010 (#)

I see it alot where I work, many kids, and teens are disrespectful to their parents, employers, and adults. I think its learned as parents are now becoming scared of their kids.

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author avatar Jack London
24th Nov 2011 (#)

Congratulations on this great article. I urge every person that may read this to be an agent of change i this society. BE AN AGENT OF CHANGE. ANSWER IN YOUR MIND THAT QUESTION : WHY SHOULD WE RESPECT OUR ELDERS:. I promess you. Think about it for 5 minutes and I know you will have several powerful reasons. THAT IS WHAT YOU NEED TO START DOING. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF A CHILD or to bring them to a halt when they become abusive. YOU WILL SAVE THEM AND THEIR PEERS A LOT OF PAIN AND DISSAPOINTMENT BY SAVING THEM FROM BEING MEDIOCRE ABUSIVE FRUSTRATED adult PRICKS

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author avatar roryanne muldrake
30th Oct 2010 (#)

I saw it where I worked after going back from being a stay at home. I decided to stay at home again. LOL
My coworkers spent as much time on the internet with personal business, as I do now at home. And no one's paying me! Crazy world!

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author avatar Denise O
30th Oct 2010 (#)

I am so happy my kids were taught respect for
themselves and others.
Just a short story, I went to Utah last year, to be with
my Mama, before she passed.
I could no believe how disrespectful most of the young folks were but, I saw why, very soon...I met their parents.
My 26 yr. old nephew called me a bitch, just because he was mad at his mother.
I have chills running up my spine just thinking of even uttering that word to my Aunties. OMG!
I mean, what happened to just common curtesy.
Sorry, I could go on and on about this.
Good article.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar roryanne muldrake
30th Oct 2010 (#)

Common courtesy is all but gone, sadly. Many of the basics were just things we 'knew' to do, or not to do.

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author avatar Denise O
3rd Nov 2010 (#)

Muldrake, I experience common curtesy daily, living here in my small town.
My kids were taught from the beginning about respect and they carried it with them.
They're now 26 and 28.
But even saying that, as a whole, we as a society, sure are failing with that one very small thing we should all do
...respect each other. :)

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author avatar Simon
18th Mar 2011 (#)

Hello, Ms. Anne.

I take issue with some of the things said in this post. First of all, how in the world is Meghan McCain "disrespectful" for expressing anti-war sentiments? Simply because her father served in the military does not mean that she has to keep her philosophy to herself. That's an expectation that is both unreasonable and unfair. If my father is a conservative, is it my duty to maintain a conservative attitude, even when I do not believe in one?

Furthermore, she did not insult her father's service. She took a stance in opposition to war. I remember a woman in one of Michael Moore's films stating that she used to hate anti-war protesters because her sons were in the war and she thought that the protesters were attacking him and his service. However, she came to realize that it was war they were attacking, not soldiers. Meghan McCain's quote attacks war, not those who have served their country. They are separate.

I am 18 years old. I was taught by my parents to treat others with kindness and compassion, but to always question/challenge authority when the time calls for it. I am glad I was taught this way, and I consider it to be far superior to the "Spare the rod, Spoil the child" philosophy advocated by the more conservative elements of society. That's a philosophy that advocates the suspension of creativity and objectivity. No reason, no logic -- "This is tradition. Do it or you'll catch a beating!"

When I asked my father why swear words are taboo, I brought up the fact that the "F Word" is simply a slang-word for intercourse, which is not a dirty word, and that the "SH-Word" is simply a slang-word for feces, which is also a "clean" word. I asked why this made any sense. I was not pummeled or shouted at. I was congratulated for asking society the tough questions. Someone who doesn't do this because they don't want to be disrespectful can best be described as a robot, programmed by society's views and values. I'd be disappointed in a child that turned out like that. The best thinkers have always been revolutionary or ran into problems with authorities. This is no coincidence.

In the eleventh grade, my parents' teachings were enacted when my teacher found it suitable to shout at me because I had not done my homework. I was always very polite to her, but now I was being treated like an inferior because I had not followed orders. I had previously seen her treat others like this. One of my best friends took three days off because she was ill. She was not allowed to hand in her assignment because it was "late", despite usually handing in her work. When the teacher singled me out and shouted at me, I stood up and told her that she was not in any way superior to me and was acting like a fool. The class took my side. Her tyranny was halted, as it should be.

It is right to stand up to and challenge bullying wherever it rears it's ugly head, especially when it wears authority's badge.

Personally, I don't believe there should be any kind of authoritarianism in school. Attending should be a choice and nothing more. Teachers should be expected to treat students as equals, whom they are simply tasked to instruct in a certain subject.

Authoritarianism of any kind is wrong. I was never beaten by my parents, and they used words/love to explain to me the rights and wrongs of life. What have I turned out as? I'm basically polite to everyone, including figures of authority, until I, myself, am dis-respected. I believe in resisting authoritarianism or fascism in any form.

In the future, if I am ever called to the school's office and told that my child was disrespecting the teacher, they wouldn't be beaten or scolded. They'd be asked what happened. If it turned out that they stood up to a fascistic authority, the most the school would get out of me is "Go get'em, son!" or "You go, girl!"

I disagree with the theme and sentiment behind this article. It's very conservative, and I believe that this line of thought is largely outdated, and for good reason. Asking questions is a good thing, as well as having the courage to stand up for yourself. Children should not be treated as subordinates. The reason why many of society's less desirable norms have remained for so long (Gender stereotyping/roles, Homophobia. etc.) is most likely due to the fact that children in the allegedly "good" old days were taught not to question the values and norms of society. This is not the teaching of respect, it is programming and indoctrination.

I think it is obvious that your upbringing and philosophy is very conservative, while mine is very liberal. Thus, it is likely that we will not come to an agreement, as we both know in our heart that we are right. However, one thing I do think is a black-and-white question is whether Megan McCain was right or wrong to say what she did. I think it's ludicrous to indict her as "disrespectful" simply because she attacked war, and I refer to my arguments at the beginning of this comment.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comment,


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author avatar Amy
20th Aug 2011 (#)

All good teachers would treat their class with respect but unfortunately the behaviour of a lot of children means that discipline has to be used to keep control of the class and stop the minority who don't want to learn, spoiling it for the rest. Challenging this discipline does not make that child smart, just rude. If the teacher is a power crazed idiot, of course that's wrong, but I've known of parents going up to school and physically assaulting a teacher for telling their child off. This will not make the child a better person. Respecting other people doesn't take anything away from you. And your liberal society is a failure. Look around you. I also think that norms of society should be there as a guide.
Here is an example of how teens are today. I was in an amusement arcade with my 8 year old son and was having a table game with him (I'd had to say excuse me ((nicely)) to a girl who was stood in the way of it). She was with a gang of others, male & female, about 16 years old. We started playing and I noticed the girl was standing quite near to me, and the gang gathered behind me near the table. When my husband and our friends joined us, the crowd moved away. I wonder what else they might have done if I'd been on my own. I'm 39 years old. This is disrespect and aggression which has taken over our society and I'm disgusted by it. There is no excuse for that behaviour.

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author avatar Jack London
24th Nov 2011 (#)

Boy am i going to answer to you.
So, school should be a choice?
Ja. Education is a choice.
You SHOULD respect your elders because you the first lesson of sense and wisdom is to LISTEN, not to YELL !!!
you are part of a mediocre generation that have no battles to fight.
You do not know what that concept is. You did not have to earn your freedom with blood, like we had to, in Guatemala. You are not aware of how the world works. Bitching about your right not to bring your homework?!!!!!

Out of RESPECT for the people that do not have enough to eat, you SHOULD eat your food thanking first for your meal. And share it with your loved ones with love. And with the world.

You SHOULD CHERISH the change of an EDUCATION that you are being GIVEN not only by your parents.
respect. discipline. A sense of self.


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author avatar Shanna
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Well said!

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author avatar Shanna
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Simon, it's people like you that make my job as a manager more like a babysitting job but be certain that I will not walk on eggshells because the young ones can't take authority and their feelings get hurt. Guess what, get with the real world- there has to be authority in the workplace to keep snotty, entitled youngsters in line and to follow policy and procedures. That goes for everyone in the workplace. In the time that I've wasted explaining why I would ask you to carry out assignment , you could've had it done already! Young people have to learn that they are no more special than anyone else. I've worked as a manager for 15 years and it took many years of dedication, overtime, sacrifice, and great pains to prove my worth to my employer to get to where I am today. I seriously laugh when someone says after 3 days at my job that they should get the same salary as I would. These people get tossed on their behinds really fast and I have zero tolerance for them, as do many other employers. You are there to do a job and it's not all about, "what can you give me?". Prove you are worth anything to your employer and you'll keep your job and get further ahead. If there were no rules, this life would be chaos. Stop fighting authority and maybe if you actually just did what you were told, there wouldn't be any problems... if it's not illegal or a violation of your human rights, then just keep your opinions to yourself and get on with it.

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author avatar Simon
11th Jan 2012 (#)

It's not "people like me" that force you to have to treat your "subordinates" with respect. It's the laws of common decency. If your mentality is that you need to keep "snotty, entitled youngsters in line" then I question whether you should hold a position of authority over anyone. It is your mentality that works behind the teachers who treat their students like military subordinates. It is your mentality that drives many police officers who treat other citizens with insufferable arrogance.

Of course someone should not expect to receive a higher salary than you if you have a higher position and more seniority. That, however, is not an issue of authority - it is an issue of common sense.

If you ask me to carry out a ridiculous assignment, I'm supposed to clam up and "get it done" without asking why? I need to "keep my opinions to myself"? This is precisely the kind of authoritarianism that is the problem in our society. It is what my parents warned me I would have to fight. You may have earned a higher salary, but you have not earned more respect. If you treat those "beneath" you as if you are better than them, then you should not be in the position you are in -- no matter how long you spent earning it.

Society should be based on the values of love and kindness. Not "I'm Better Than You" or "Do this, because this is the way things go" -- you should thank God for people like me who question authority. Believe me, if we didn't exist you'd be speaking Russian or German right now and a scientific "authority" would be telling you how much food someone of your caliber was allowed in your lifetime.

Peace, Shannon -- if you had to deal with some of what I have to, I think you'd have a different outlook on authority.

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author avatar Simon
29th Dec 2011 (#)

The comment by Jack London very much proves my point. It's rage, not common sense.

Yes, London, school should be a choice. You say that opting out of school is effectively opting into a poor, uneducated life in the ghetto. This is an ignorant argument that assumes too much value in formal education. If you were my teacher and you told me that I would be tested on several obscure facts about the history of the Earth tomorrow, I would study for the
test but would not have really learned anything. Unless these facts were of particular interest to me, I would not even remember them after the test was finished. You more easily remember something that you have uncovered than something that has been fed to you with a silver, authoritarian spoon. I believe in self-education.

Einstein hated school -- did you know that? Some of the greatest thinkers in the world have said horrific things about the system of formal education. Why do you think that is? Was Mark Twain a spoiled brat who was upset that he couldn't find a plug for his iPod when he stated that he would never let his schooling impede his education?

I'm on board with "respect for my elders", London. As a general rule, not an absolute one. Many of my "elders" are fools or people with evil intentions. Should I give them "respect" simply on the basis of age difference? Is this logical? Is it not possible for someone to be more knowledgeable or virtuous than someone who is technically their "elder"?

Because of the very real holes I could poke in "Respect your elders" as an absolute rule (as opposed to a general guideline), I think a far better rule is:

"Respect people who deserve respect."

Now, of course, that's very subjective. But at least you're thinking about a bit more than a person's age.

Now, get this straight -- as a rule, I respect you completely when I meet you. You can maintain that respect or it can plummet based on how things progress from there. I've found this to work well.

Don't tell me that I have no battles to fight -- you know nothing about my life, London. You are seeing cliches about teenage youth -- all of them fueled by bitterness, anger, and frustration. By the way, you don't know how many "battles" an average teenager fights. Whether they're small to you or whether you've seen big ones is irrelevant, since I have not attempted to undermine your own experience.

You mock the fact that I stood up to my eleventh-grade religion teacher when she shouted at and berated me simply because I had not brought any homework. Now, obviously, this conflict is not as important as what you have dealt with in Guatemala. Not as much was at stake, and I never claimed such. This makes your comparison of the two rather irrelevant. The point is that authoritarianism had reared it's head -- in a small way, yes, but it had. As an eighteen-year old in Toronto, Canada, I have obviously not had much of an opportunity to look authoritarianism in the eyes. However, it should be rebuked no matter how it appears -- whether it is small-scale or large-scale. It has no place anywhere. Thus, I acted in the correct way when I publicly embarrassed the teacher on the basis of her authoritarian behavior. When a figure who I am taught to believe is an authority and a guide begins to treat me like a piece of dirt, that is a "battle" worth fighting. By the way, did you ever stop to consider the fact that if I had not "talked back" in that instance, it would have set a precedent? It would have demonstrated the teacher's reprehensible behavior as being acceptable and even business-as-usual.

By the way, my generation isn't responsible for the problems in Guatemala. It was the "good old conservatives" of the CIA, who overthrew the democratically-elected Jacob Arbenz. This resulted in a forty-year reign of dictators. Why? Arbenz threatened American business interests, such as United Fruit -- a company partially owned by the CIA director (LOL!). Surprised a school-hating, authority-distrusting "teenager" knew that? Maybe support for authoritarianism isn't a prerequisite for education.

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author avatar Shanna
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Simon, stop crying and picking battles with your teachers and just do your homework and assignments. You're there to learn, not to "defend your rights" ... did what the teacher do really violate your human rights or illegal in nature in any way? Did you think maybe you deserved a scolding from the teacher because you were, again, being a self-entitled brat and didn't do your schoolwork in the time that he/ she asked. Everyone has deadlines to meet and the expectation is that they are met or else there are consequences. That's life. On the job, if an assignment isn't completed when your boss asks, you may be tossed on your behind and no more paycheck! Will fighting for your rights and "talking back" matter to you then? Think real hard about that one.

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author avatar Simon
11th Jan 2012 (#)

I'm not at school to learn, Shanna -- I'm there to get a piece of paper from the authorities of the "state" saying that I'm adequate for employment or "promotion" in the education system.

No "learning" involved -- in five minutes, I can learn more in my room with my books and computer than I do in an entire day of school.

I'm there because the state forces me to be there. I don't get paid to be there. I don't have any immediate gains from going there (other than experience and social interactions). If they expect me to sit down, shut up, and treat them like I owe them something, they have another thing coming. Will I act like a "disrespectful, entitled brat"? No, I'm quite pleasant in person -- until, however, I'm treated like a soldier in a very fascist army.

Should I be "defending my rights" there? No -- you're absolutely right. I shouldn't have to. If I didn't finish my homework, then give me a zero or some slack -- one or the other. Don't treat me like you have the right to

As for your last point, you're basically saying that I should kiss my dignity, free thought, and individualism goodbye in exchange for money to live. If that's the way this world works, then screw it -- I'll go renegade. :)

Peace Shanna, we're obviously on very different pages and the products of very different upbringings. To each their own, I suppose. Don't hate -- the system needs it's enemies, right? :)

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author avatar Mark
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

there needs to be more kids like you. too many just lap up the bs they're told and end up like shannon.

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author avatar David
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Hi,I,m a fortyfive year old father of a Lance Corporal Marine.He went in straight out of highschool,and we were very proud.he wanted to be a chaplain in the corp.He was always very respectful,but every since he went in the service he has turned into someone I don't even know.Very disrespectful,foulmouthed,and when he came home ,he ran off to marry a girl he met on the internet that we had never met.She has been very disrespectful to our family also.She is a lot older than he is ,has four children,and does not have custody of any of them.She has flat out lied to our son about us while he was overseas,and he believes everthing she says.I would just like my son back the way he was.I thought going in the military would help him reach his goals in life,but its turned him into someone I don't even recognize.He came home for Christmas,and I had to beg him to come and see us.Were not the only parents having problems with their children that have joined the military,I know other parents going through the same things we are.I though our military was supposed to teach honor,respect,and duty to God ,and country.We don't have the same military today that we had twenty years ago.Don't get me wrong,I appreciate our men and women that lay their lives on the line for our country.I'm just saying that somethings happening to our kids between leaving home and their trainingto cause them to call home cursing their parents,and using the F word every other breath. If the future of our country is going to be protected by people that have no morals,or respect for the people who fought and died to give them the freedom to act the way they want,and disrespect their elders,were headed to hell in a handbasket!

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author avatar Kat
20th May 2012 (#)

While I respect and admire your opinion, I fail to see how Meghan was being disrespectful. Mind you that I haven't heard or watched that interview, nor have I read the whole thing. What I am referring to is the single quote that you included, being: "We should never go to war unless it’s the absolute last circumstance."

To me, I interpreted this as meaning "When handling disagreements and difficult situations with other countries, we (as a country) should try to avoid unnecessary violence and bloodshed by trying other, less abrasive methods first." Personally, I don't see her comment as being offensive in any way. She probably didn't mean for it to come off as a snub on her father's actions in the war, or his status as a POW.

What has happened in the past has happened in the past, and while there is nothing that we can do to change that, there is everything we can do to change the future. I feel that Meghan made her comment with possible future conflicts in mind, rather than past clashes.

I really am genuinely curious though, as to how you find this disrespectful. I could infer from your article that you felt it was because of her close blood connections with a veteran, but I didn't see any clarification past that.

Now, a clarification on my part: Yes, I am very grateful to the men and women who bravely go out and lay down their lives to serve our country. I understand that it takes a huge amount of dedication and perseverance to do so. However, I do not believe that war should ever be the first choice in a conflict with another country- acting diplomatically and negotiating a solution should be. Having had friends and family who have lost loved ones to the brutality of battle, I don't think it is necessary for others to go through that kind of grief and loss over something that could have been settled peacefully.

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author avatar Mark
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

People like Shanna and, evidently, the author of this article, think that expecting to be respected as another human being makes you a whiny, self-entitled brat. Their ideology is poisonous and should be challenged whenever it rears its ugly head. I will raise my children to challenge it, just as I'm sure Shanna will raise her children to be obedient drones who march in lockstep with whatever injustice that receives the official seal of approval. After all, one must be a good little German. For that is apparently what "respect" is all about to people like Shanna and Jack London.

And, Kat, you shouldn't have to tell the author that you "respect" her opinion. It isn't worthy of any. She is showing she doesn't even know the meaning of disrespect by saying that Meghan McCain is "disrespectful" by opposing war. She is also showing that she is a horrible parent, as she evidently believes that children should mindlessly march in lockstep with their parents on every issue. It's abhorrent and so anti-individual that it would make anyone who values freedom and good sense sick to their stomach.

In the author's warped, disturbed view, McCain's daughter (who I very much admire for parting from her family's warhawk attitudes) was "disrespectful" for opposing the public bloodbath that is war.

Well, you know what? The author, by espousing that absurd and disgusting sentiment, has disrespected every civilian blown to bits and every soldier maimed or killed in the service of some wealthy bankster's corrupt agenda. On their behalf, I'd like to spit in her face.

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