Is it reasonable for adults to assume youth should give respect even if they are not receiving it? I have heard from adults that read last month’s article stating that they did not agree that if you “give respect, then you will get respect.” In April, I interviewed a variety of youth ages 16-20 who spoke of these sentiments, but regardless if young people are receiving respect, many adults assume the stance that no matter what, adults should be respected. Is this right thinking?
To be clear, the word “respect” means to “give special consideration or approval towards someone or something.” In reference to adults and youth, I personally believe that adults and youth should both be respected. Every individual has the right to know that their age does not play a factor in determining whether or not they will be respected; it is a human right.
In this day and age, many adults and youth have issues respecting each other because of cross-generational views. Values, morals, and even expectations have been taught differently through the years, and what may be important to a fifty-year old adult may not necessarily hold the same weight as an eighteen-year old teenager or even a thirty-three year old adult. I am not saying that due to cross-generational ages, people cannot demonstrate the proper respect towards one another. What often leads to disrespect is a hodge-podge of miscommunication and a disconnection of valuing what each age group respects and then taking those ideals into consideration.
As a people and a community, it should not be assumed that young people will just be “seen and not heard.” Granted, there are settings when youth should not be privy to or indulge in adult settings, but at the same time, it is vital to teach the expectations. I respect my elders because it was taught to me to show respect to both the elderly and even the young. If we are to help our young people be their best selves, be sure we are setting consistent examples by showing respect and teaching how to communicate respect to all. Do not assume young people will know how to give or receive respect if they have not seen strong, positive models.