Today seems like a good day to talk about respect and what it really means. It’s possible (probable) that over the next four years as you blossom into a young girl, you’ll hear things spoken from the leader of our country that will make you ask “is that okay?” or “why did he say that?” and you should know that it doesn’t matter who said it or why, but we do not tolerate disrespect towards others.
I want you to know that I expect more from you and that it is just as important for you to expect respect from others regardless of your age, gender or beliefs.
Recognize differences. We are all different. You know that well already. Whether it’s our age, skin color, abilities, intelligence, backgrounds, or beliefs, we are all God’s children. It doesn’t matter what role someone holds – a classmate, your teacher, a lunchroom helper, or the principal – each of them is a person that deserves your respect.
Being different is nothing to be afraid of, and regardless of what makes someone different from you, I expect you treat them with kindness. This world will give you reasons to fear others that are different. I will be with you to keep you safe, and you will learn differences are not to be feared. Differences make us unique and can make our world a great place if we embrace them and include them.
Empathize. We all go through hard times. Sometimes you may see a friend on the playground or in the lunchroom that’s having a rough day. When someone is crying, go listen. When someone is in trouble or need, offer help. If someone is alone, ask if they want to play. If someone is being mean, take the opportunity to show them kindness.
Say something nice. From the words of Thumper, “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” But do more than that. Find something to say. Say nice things to your friends and family and to people you just meet. Doesn’t it make you feel good when people say kind things to you? Help other people feel good, too. This is something I need to show you more. I know I’m quiet and don’t always say it out loud to others, but I will do better to show you the power this can have.
Patience, patience, patience. I know you love to be first. Let others have a turn to be first. Patience must be learned and even though you will get frustrated that I don’t do everything you ask right away, I am teaching you how to wait.
Have patience for others. Not everything will happen according to your plan or schedule. There are situations that you cannot control and that others may not be able to either.
Expect respect. One of the most important things I must teach you about respect is that you deserve respect at all times. While I ask you to be kind, have patience, and reach out to others that doesn’t mean it will always work. Don’t let people mistreat you regardless of who they are. If someone is older than you or in a greater position than you and treating you wrongly you need to tell me. You deserve better. Walk away and tell me or someone you trust that you are being hurt. I will always be here for you.
Courage. Respect will take courage sometimes. Have courage, and do not allow excuses to be made for disrespect. Stand up when someone calls your sister or someone like her dumb or weird or something worse. Stand up for yourself if someone is being hurtful. Ask me when you need help or don’t know what to do in a situation.
Thank others. Togetherness is how our community works. Take the time to say thank you – thank you for the glass of milk, for helping clean up with me, for being a good friend, for being you. Show respect by always giving thanks.
If you can’t remember all of this all the time, simply remember to “have courage and be kind,” sweet girl.