Sunday, October 6, 2013

Can Formality be a Form of Respect?

“‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

When I was growing up my mom insisted I call some adults Mr. or Mrs. with their family name.  Mr. Geek grew up calling nearly all adults outside his family Mr. or Miss with their first name.  He also was taught to say Sir or Ma'am, where I was not.  Even the family titles of Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa also carry an element of formality important to teaching respect.

I believe this was a good thing.  When children learn to address their elders formally it becomes easier for them to learn to show respect.  I believe the two go hand in hand.  I say this with the assumption that the parents are already demonstrating respect in their home.

There is a woman in my church who teaches middle school science.  During Sunday School today she was talking about how disrespectful her students are with her.  If they're disrespectful with her then they are also disrespectful with other teachers, and authority figures in general.  

When I was in high school one of my classmates insisted on calling the teacher by her first name instead of her formal name.  He rarely did as she asked and showed her little respect in her own classroom.

On the flip side, I was in the grocery store a few months ago and got to witness an exchange between the young man bagging my groceries and the cashier.  He called her Miss <name> and said 'yes ma'am' and 'no ma'am'.  I couldn't help but be impressed with how well his parents taught him to show respect.

Mr. Geek and I are trying to teach our son to show respect through elements of formality.  I hope we do as well teaching Monster as the young man above.

1 Peter 2:16-17

16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.


  1. Just found your site and signed up to follow. Saw you on Sheila Gregoire's site.

    1. Wow! Thank you. I'm honored and humbled.