Respect Your Elders…For What?

Digging into the phrase “respect your elders” and how harmful it really is.


The age gap between generation can blur the lines of respect and disrespect.

“Respect your elders” is a phrase every kid has heard a least once in their life. And sometimes it’s being used in the right context, but most of the time it is not helpful. The phrase “respect your elders” is outdated and is an excuse adults use when a teenager says something they don’t like. онлайн займ на карту срочно без отказа

We are treated like kids but expected to act like adults. There is no connection between those two expectations. ”

These three words imply that adults deserve our respect while we have to earn theirs. Elementary school age kids tend to take words very literally and can interpret the phrase as adults can do no wrong. If an adult acts disrespectful to a teenager it’s okay because they’re a mature adult who has been through life and “knows better.” But the minute a child defends themselves or proves an adult wrong it’s labeled as “talking back.”

Adults expect teenagers to act like adults, yet they continue to treat us as children. We are told that to be treated as an adult, we have to act like an adult. The problem with that is when we actually act like an adult, we are still treated like children. 

We have to ask our teachers if we are allowed to go to the bathroom. We have to raise our hand to be “allowed” to talk. People don’t have to regularly raise their hand to talk in public.

Adults will treat teenagers as if they are an adult and say that it is “preparing us for the future” when really all it does is make teens feel like they are not good enough. 

An alternative phrase to use would be “respect those who respect you.” I believe that everyone deserves respect until they have given someone a reason why they don’t deserve it. But if someone is blatantly disrespectful towards someone, you shouldn’t just sit there and take it.

Using the phrase “respect your elders” can imply that we, as teenagers, cannot stand up for ourselves against an adult. Additionally, this phrase is more demanding that we respect adults unconditionally. It encourages us to comply to adults and do whatever they say even if it is hurtful or wrong. 

The phrase implies that before we may even truly know someone who is older than us, we are supposed to respect them because they’ve “earned it”. Somehow since they’ve made it further in their life thus far, they should automatically be respected by those that are younger than them. 

Children are taught that they have to earn respect from their elders. It’s strange, for we are supposed to blindly respect someone who probably won’t respect us until we’ve proved ourselves to them. We have to earn their respect while we must automatically respect them, simply because they are older than us. 

“Respect your elders” should be used in a different way. It should be used in a way where children don’t have to respect someone older than them, unless they know the person and the respect is mutual. 

It is common for adults to make remarks that are disrespectful towards younger generations, which is somewhat hypocritical to what they preach.  “I’ve had many family members tell me I don’t work hard for anything, and don’t have any struggles just because I am young.” says sophomore Claire Clemmer.

But when kids do bring up actual problems adults invalidate their problems and blame it on the internet. “I have been told that everything I complain about is caused by being on my phone.” says sophomore Ella Zimmer.

So, we have to earn respect from others around us, but, that should apply to everyone, not just children. Elders should have to earn our respect just as we’ve earned theirs. 

Should we be nice to our elders, yes.  Should our elders be nice to us, yes.  But, it doesn’t mean we should earn each other’s respect right away. It takes time, and we should all accept that.