(Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress via Flickr Creative Commons, New York City Police Ceremony, circa 1910)
Teach Your Son to Respect Authority Figures
In our previous article on respecting elders, we first asked the question: Who is an elder?
Now we must also answer: Who are authority figures?
Authority is 1) The power to give orders or make decisions, 2) The power or right to direct or control someone or something, 3) The confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people, 4) A quality that makes something seem true or real. – Adapted from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/authority
Authority may not relate to those who have power alone, rather, to those who have either power or influence. In brainstorming authority figure examples with my sons during this study last week, we came up with the following:
- Police (Power)
- Coaches (Influence)
- Teachers (Influence)
- Judges (Power)
- Firefighters (Influence)
- Principals (Influence)
- The parents of your friends (Influence)
- The Governor (Power)
- The President (Power)
- Pretty much anyone in government…
I know what you are going to say, “Why should we respect those in government given the shape of politics today with a government in partial shutdown”? That is a fair question, indeed.
Let us not confuse the act of respect with the ability to disagree. In sharing this lesson with my sons, I explained how it is acceptable, even desirable, to have some form of disagreement with authority figures.
- That is your right as an individual citizen.
- That is part of critical thinking.
- That is part of growing to independence.
- That is very American.
- That is part of becoming a man.
On the flip side, and one area that I am personally greatly convicted, is how we snipe at authority figures by using profanity against them, talking behind their back or negatively about their character (work the problem, not the person), acting verbally or physically violent toward them, general mocking and scoffing.
Guilty. Yet we are all works in progress and must be reminded of the importance behind showing respect to authority figures. Most of the time we are mad because we just didn’t get something exactly the way we wanted or would have done it ourselves.
So how can our sons be taught how to respect authority figures.
- Listening with our eyes by making continuous eye contact when authority figure is speaking.
- Not interrupting the authority figure who is speaking to state your views.
- Ask for them to give you guidance in a decision instead of making it on your own.
- Ask for them to be your “mentor” on a topic (bible, woodworking, electronics, tools, etc.)
- Showing them gratitude by telling them “thank you” for the good choices they make. I’m sure our congressmen and congresswomen would love to get thank you letters for good things they have done.
- Donating to charities or events that help support them (police, firefighter, school fundraisers).
- Honoring them publicly when in front of others by refraining from being a scoffer, a mocker, or silencing scoffers and mockers.
If your son does just one of these things for an authority figure, he can make a tremendous difference in his own life, their life, and to society.
So get started today!
Have tips or ways this has worked for you? Share it with the community through the comments section.
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