Showing respect

image Growing up I was always told to call people Uncle [place name here] or Auntie  [place name here].  I was a good little girl and did as was told, I called everyone that and sometimes the adults would get upset because by me calling them that it made them feel old.  Catch 22, if I didn’t call them that I would get in to trouble and if I did call them that I would upset them, some visibly.

The adults that didn’t like it would go off on a tangent with me saying how I should just call them by their first names, that they weren’t my Aunts or Uncles but rather just friends of my mothers.  Got confusing calling her boyfriends uncles can tell you.

To make matters more confusing when my grandfather passed away my cousins told me that the woman I thought was my grandmother was in fact not.  She was my grandfather’s second wife and no relation to me.  They told me that I was to stop calling her Granny immediately or I would get into trouble.

The family didn’t like her much because she stole all Oupa’s money, denied the family inheritance and was not of our class. Aristocratic family thinking surpassing snobbish to the extreme.  Confusion deluxe for my little mind. Huh? She’s not my Granny?  So instead of losing just my Grandpa, known as Oupa, I lost my Granny to.

After that I decided that no matter what mother said I was not going to call anyone Aunty, Uncle or anything else ever again.  The people in my life weren’t constant and who knew if they were real or not, one moment they could be my Uncle, the next they could be my torturer or better yet my mothers boyfriend. No ways was I going to do it.

I also realised that calling people by titles doesn’t show respect.  The whole family call this one and that by titles but showed little respect.  In my little mind it made no sense that they said it was a sign of respect only for them to treat the other without respect.  No sense at all.

The adults didn’t like my decision much to the point that I was told that I was  bad mannered and rude.  No matter what they said I stuck with my decision, they couldn’t do anything to me that they hadn’t done already and my skin was now thicker than thick from it all.

Instead I showed them respect by being respectful in all that I did. I continued to offer them food and drinks as always.  I would continue to let them walk first through a door and open doors for them.  I would always smile and say my thank you’s, pleases and how are you’s.  I would listen to them at length and keep quiet when children should be seen not heard.

It worked.  Soon the family gave up castigating me for my rude manners caused by lack of titles and they slowly accepted my decision to do away with them.  They grew accustomed to me using their first names even if they didn’t understand the why’s, no matter how many times I tried to explain them.

My families attitude sickened me, I used to get really upset by their actions, by  what they said to each other and how they treated each other.  I would often try to tell them to show more respect but hearing it from a little girl would just make matters worse.  Eventually after many years I gave up when I realised that some people will just never show it as it should be.

From my family I learnt that no one in our lives are constant, that giving someone a title or calling them something doesn’t make them what you call them, that people are more often than not who they say they are.

My most important lesson from my family though was that the only true indicator to know if someone is someone of worth is by their actions.

You can be rich or poor

You can wear nice clothes or wear torn ripped clothing

You can speak and write more eloquently and proper or with the worst grammar

You can be aristocratic or working class

You can be prominent in the community or unknown to the majority

How you treat others says more about you, your actions, speak louder than all else.

A wolf will never be a sheep no matter how hard it tries


11 thoughts on “Showing respect

  1. Wow, SF. As usual, I’m floored. How awful for you though – to need to call people by titles like that. The culture here is so incredibly different that I can’t even imagine a place where it would be acceptable and common to use titles!

    Isn’t it good you were an incredible bright child and learned that shallow things like the ones you listen don’t make a difference and that the only way to really measure people is by their actions and how they treat others.

  2. During my short stay in the UK, this was one thing I noticed. It felt a bit odd witnessing seven to eight-year-olds calling men and women in their sixties and seventies by their names.

    In our part of the world small children are taught to do what you were told to do. There is a logic behind it. It is to cultivate respect in young children for people who are of the same generation to their parents. Their standing in society is higher than that of the children, thus they have to be shown the due respect. It is also to send the message that all are relatives, you do not have to be blood-relatives to be called uncles or aunties.

    Insecurity is also creeping in here. The older people are also afraid if they are called uncles and aunties age will suddenly catch them in its grip and they will suddenly aged. The logic of the teaching is lost on them totally.

  3. I’m not sure where the respect comes from if your told to call everyone “auntie and uncle.” It holds nothing special if everyone is called that. Know what I mean? I have three little ones that call me grandma. If everyone called me that it would be nothing special. I feel it’s an honor.

    I also feel you have to earn respect to a certain degree. Man, I’m so glad your out of there.

  4. The use of ‘respect’ here may not be correct. ‘Deference’/’deferential’ may be more apt. In most of Asia, if one is old and one is addressed as grandpa or grandma, one feels honored.

    This is the beauty of blogging, it allows us to see the cultural and religious diversity of each nation.

  5. Lovely and insightful. I am so touched by your openness. I can read through these lines that you were a remarkable child, warm and loving and very, very smart. You raised yourself, made your own path, which is a big challenge when the family around you doesn’t really understand what you need. You did great, and you continue to do great as you learn, listen, grow, spread those wings!

  6. I find it fascinating that the people who abuse their children are obsessed with ‘respect’. My father was the same way. Nothing would set him off more than the thought he was being disrespected.

  7. True that, Sis. People who demand respect usually suffer from low self esteem; they need others to give them their authority because they do not feel it true to themselves. I usually respect their wishes; mainly because I feel sorry for them and if can boost their self respect just a tad; the environment is usually better for it – as they won’t cause too much discomfort to some undeserving soul.

    Blessings dearest sis. . . BTW, got your post card. . . I adore it. . . I’ll have to email you with some detailed questions. THANK YOU always for the continued love. . . . know that it’s returned although I may get into my little world at times. . .


  8. Yes, I am with Joy on this one; respect should be earned. As we have learned through parenting, we teach Hannah what it means to respect others, not always consistent with what society says that we “should” do. We will not have her calling someone by a familiarity title like aunt and uncle, for example, which I have seen done here in the US also, just for the sake of what is seen as “proper”. She has respect for those that treat her, and us as her family, with respect.

    Plain and simple………

    Terrific post sweets!

  9. Excellent post, my dear. Even as a child you were teaching..very sage!

    I am in the south..born and raised here. We had to say yes sir and no mam. To not do so was considered very disrespectful, and you would get you ass beat. Some of the adults would never say..please, thank you, or I’m sorry to children. As a child that bothered me.

    I love this image too!

  10. Please help me with the logic here. Isn’t teaching the children to insist on getting respect before they are to give out respect the same as telling them to demand respect before respect can be given out by them. What have the children done to deserve the respect first?

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