Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Respecting elders

“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly” –Lev. 19:32

Today’s society is growing progressively older but teenagers seem to have less of an appreciation for today’s senior citizens. The rise in divorce rates and the increase in blended families has led to more of a disconnect between extended family and younger kids. Families are less likely to have family reunions these days. Therefore, there is less of connection between aunts and uncles, cousins and nephews. There isn't as much interaction between grandparents and grandkids. But no matter the flavor of the family, we need to teach our kids to value those who are older.

Charlie, a new retiree-greeter at Wal Mart, just couldn't seem to get to work on time. Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late. But he was a good worker, really tidy, clean-shaven, sharp minded and a real credit to the company and obviously demonstrating their "Older Person Friendly" policies. One day the boss called him in for a talk: "Charlie, I like your work ethic. You do a bang-up job, but being late so often is quite bothersome." "Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it." "Well good, that's what I like to hear. It's odd though you're coming in late. I know you're retired from the Armed Forces. What did they say if you came in late there?" "They said, 'Good morning, General, may I get you some coffee, Sir?’”

Our tendency to stereotype and label creates bias that older people have little to contribute to a society in which they have already contributed so much. One of my favorite movies is Driving Miss Daisy. In it, Hoeck, the black chauffer (played by Morgan Freeman) is hired by Miss Daisy’s son to drive Miss Daisy (played by Jessica Tandy). Miss Daisy tries every trick in the book to get Hoeck to reject and leave her alone. But Hoeck serves and loves the elder Miss Daisy until he finally wins her love, affection and friendship. It’s important that we model that same kind of love and affection for the elderly.

My 82 year old mother lives in Fort Worth by herself. When her health was declining, we moved her to Branson where she lived not far from our home. But her adjustment here was difficult and she wanted to move back to Fort Worth. We kept the house in Fort Worth just in case. After 6 months of a lot of talking and praying, we moved her back. I love my mom a lot but there were lots of reasons to be angry and frustrated over it all. I definitely grew impatient at times, but was reminded to show her love and respect.

Remember, if God grants us length of days in this life, we’re all destined to grow old. There’s not hardly a day goes by that I don’t get caught behind an elderly driver enjoying their vacation in the Ozarks. I might grow impatient at first but then I think of my mom driving in Fort Worth and the person following behind her. I hope they’re patient. I hope they understand. I hope they love. I need to have that same respect.

Be sure and model respect for senior citizens for your teen. Be patient. Be kind. Be respectful. Keep your family in touch with older aunts, uncles and grandparents. Go visit a nursing home in your area. Sure, it takes effort. But the lesson in respect is so important. Remember, one day you’ll be the elder and your kids will model what they saw in you.

Be respectful to the elderly- you might just be saluting a general!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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