Monday, July 17, 2006

Respect for the Home

(This article was posted on the parents support blog by one of the editors. Since it has something to do with peaceful family life, I'll reprint it here.)

For more articles on rebellion in the home, go here where I have written. Also, a friend of mine has a few of hers on there, with her own insights.

The concept of respect has been grossly demoted. It is sad that our children have never seen their country in a time when there was great respect for parents and families in society, as a whole.

In the 1960's our nation endured a cultural revolution that broke down the kind of respect that actually ran the nation for many decades. I've read that the rebellion of the 1920's did far more damage, (Read "The Benevolence of Manners" by Linda Lichter. She shows how some leading 20th century people helped to throw off the values of the parents and grandparents of the Victorian era, which was largely family and parent guided) but since I've personally seen the cultural changes before and after the music and riots of the 60's, that is what I will talk about here.

As I was saying, the grown children of this generation do not know of a society where adult children showed respect and love to their parents and grandparents. What they see today is children using their parents and grandparents and feeling that they are owed a living. I grew up hearing the phrase, "No one owes you a living." We knew the deeper meaning of that. It was to ward off self-centeredness.

When I was a little girl I adored my mother and father. There was a compulsory education law that came into effect that most parents of the 50's thought they had to comply with, and so I was sent to school. That was the beginning of my disrespect for my parents. I thought my teachers were "it" and couldn't tolerate my parents demands on me.

Althought I was not always outwardly rebellious, the school experience, which took me from God-given authority and put me under other authorities and "experts" made me lose respect for the home. I was a child, and didn't know what in the world I was doing. I am sure my parents were very bewildered at this behavior. They had both grown up with respect for their homes and families.

Keep in mind that the parents of the 40's and 50's were not children in the 40's and 50's. They were raised by parents born in the 1800's or early 1900's who were raised by parents in the previous century. They passed on their upbringing to their children, so in a sense, many that were raised in the 50's received a Victorian upbringing and an appreciation of the family that does not exist in most homes today.

I keenly remember one time that I attempted to shout at my mother. Both my parents shut me out of the house and made me sit on the porch til I had gotten over my fit. As it was the usual course of most parents, most kids did not consider it abuse. They learned from it and adjusted to it. We were ashamed to speak of it because it meant we weren't compliant or mature. To disturb the home or rail against a mother was not tolerated. Sometimes after we recovered from such a slip in our behavior, we asked our mother not to tell the neighbor about it; the neighbor that she spoke over the fence with occasionally. If anyone heard about it, the reputation would follow you quite a long time. This, and other methods of chastisement, kept many of us following the right direction!

As a teenager in the 60s I saw a lot of rebellion. It is sad that those kids barely had any training in respect and were not even old enough to be well grounded in family life, before the 60's revolution hit them. Night and day they listened to the new rock music, which encouraged self-actualization and rebellion against authority. Even "Life" magazine, for the first time, featured the rock groups instead of statesmen and good things about America. Schools had social studies programs in which the teenagers were encouraged to listen to report the news rather than write compositions and book reviews of good literature. Literature and poetry was introduced into the education system that only spoke of despair and disappointment, or portrayed authority in a bad light, showing the failing of parents instead of the purpose.

This generation of grown children never saw the nation as a whole, in a time when families were strong and the rule of the parents was the wisest counsel you could get. To be sure, there were hooligans and deadbeats and hoods and bums and people of the times that could not get their lives together, but even THEY knew that they were not following the right standard. Parents would point to their unwholesome relative and say "Uncle Jim is a perfect example for why you should not drink." Failed lives were used as obvious lessons in life for what could happen if a child disobeyed and dishonored his parents. The old people warned the young people not to ruin their lives, and showed them the little things that would lead to that ruin. There were things that would ruin your life they said, and even if you did get back on the right track, you would have a difficult time and have to pay for your failures both in money and in time lost. Success in life depended upon character qualities rather than money. (Compare that to today's popular concept of success.)

Since the 60's, great efforts continued to break down the values of the home. Educators and writers did this by changing the values of values, saying that respect was not necessary and there was no reason to honor your parents, since they were probably hypocrites anyway.

When today's children do meet families that have that kind of honor and respect for the home, which comes from an adherance to the Bible, they think they are wierd. More and more families, however, want that for their homes, wierd or not, and are succeeding at it. I know several of these families who homeschooled their children. Their homes have the kind of atmosphere that homes used to have before 1964.

Grown children have never seen America as it used to be when it was family-based. Nowadays it is economy based, and most people base decisions and likes and dislikes on whether it will benefit them economically. These offspring view the world only as they see it now in front of them. They have no respect for their parents or grandparents, often scoffing at the old ways, where the good walk is.

Many counsellors and people who deem themselves authorities (teachers, psychiatrists, --even ministers) do more harm to the family cohesiveness than good. Instead of teaching the child to respect and honor his parents, turning their hearts to their fathers and mothers, these people play down the concept of respect.

I even heard one preacher say that the parent had to EARN the respect. I think a lot of teens and adult offspring who were just on the edge of rebellion and disprespect, and may have been looking for an excuse for their bad manners and rudeness toward their parents, were given the green light by such a sermon. If earning respect was a criteria in having honoring children, there would never be one single parent who would qualify. The children would only look for fault and find loopholes.

Most of these ideas come from psychology, not from the Bible. So, even in our churches, although our adult children may be sitting there, they can secretly be high-minded, lording it over their own parents, and feeling disrespect. The word "rebellion" from the scripture in I Samuel, that I mentioned in a previous article, is from a Hebrew word that means "bitter."
In a society that does not respect the concept of honor for the parents, it is extremely trying and difficult for mothers and fathers to cope. Some families may even sympathize with their rebellious sons and daughters and entertain them. If any of you reading this is over the age of 60, you'll remember a time when harsh words spoken to a parent resulted in having to leave the house.

I hope everyone who reads this blog will rise up from defeat and quit feeling demeaned and demoralized. Those who are promoting disrespect for the home are the enemy and the insurrectionist, not you. God made you a parent. You were not trained to fight this kind of rebellion. Most of you look into the eyes of that precious baby after the birth, and never dream that they will create so much grief and hardship on the family. After all the devoted care to see that the child lives, no parent ever expects to be punished with such sore punishment.

Although I was born in 1951, that does not mean I knew nothing from the previous decades. I observed a lot in the lives of people who lived at that time who grew up in the early 1900's. I had the privilege of being around really firm fathers and mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers who were born in the 1800's, which was referred to as the Victorian Era.

Contrary to popular myth, this era was not full of rigid people whose lives were miserable. Their strictness was tempered by their intense loyalty and love for their families. They could sound very harsh, but they wouldn't take the easy way out. They weren't the type of people to be your friend one minute and then turn against you. You never wondered what they thought of you, you KNEW. They were not consumed with trying to have high self esteem. They knew that if they did what was good and right, and were respectful, they would naturally get good feelings and good self esteem. Nowadays, the grown kids want good feelings even when they do what is wrong.

These days we live in a society of treachery, and grown children are picking up the attitudes of disloyalty, disprespect and dishonor. Disrespect for the home isn't limited to teen-agers. It can come at any age--20's, 30's, 40's, etc. I know of 50 year old children who still criticise and disrespect their aged parents, and treat their homes casually.

For parents who are hurting, let me give you an example of my mother. She had 7 children, and once in awhile they would give her a hard time, especially as they got older. When we reached the age that we could go out at night, (most of the time it was with our own brothers and sisters), she would give us a curfew, but she would say something like,
"I am not going to stay up and wait for you if you don't come in at the right time. It is YOU who should worry. You've been taught what is right, and I'm not going to do the worrying. YOU are. because if you don't come in, you are the one who is in trouble, not I."

My mother never spent one sleepless night over us, not because we were always good or always obeyed the rules, but because she put the burden of the fault on US. I well remember going somewhere I shouldn't have, and feeling very nervous. When I got home, I had trouble sleeping!
If only parents could instill this personal respect and responsibility into their grown children, so that when they disrespected their parents and their homes, they would be the ones to lose sleep!

Now let me contrast the actual look of the houses before and after the 60's rebellion against parental authority. Inside, our homes were absolutely valued and loved. We loved our things, our couches, our beds, and our pictures on the wall.

Usually there was a quilt that a loving relative had made, on the back of the chair or couch. The living room and dining rooms were especially revered, because the living room was a place we visited one another, not just guests. Small tables flanked each side of the couch or chair, holding a lamp and maybe a small stack of books.

A table and chair set created the dining area, where most of our meals were taken. The pride we had in our furniture and decor was not because of the furniture itself--I doubt if anyone can remember the exact style of furniture they had---but in the way it was kept. There was a lot of pride in being neat and clean.

There was really no such thing as "decorating" as we know it today, with styles or colors matching. A hand braided rug was placed in the middle of the living room floor. Paintings on the wall were usually bought from a friend who painted, or painted yourself. Often, people would take pictures out of magazines and frame them for a wall hanging. Black and white family photographs were especially treasured. A picture of grandparents would be displayed on the mantel.

Bedrooms were places that were also kept in order. We each had a bed, some blankets, and maybe a little dresser. We took time to fold our clothes and put them back neatly in the drawers. (You can imagine the astonishment of that generation of parents, when the modern bedroom came into their view--with stacks of clothes in a corner, and loud rock music blaring from huge speakers.)

We knew the purpose of the dwelling place. It was not somewhere to flop around in and create a mess and disprespect. It was something to be proud of. Our parents told us that if we respected the house and the home, we could expect to spend many happy hours there.
This was written for parents of rebellious teens and adult chldren, on the blog that was started as a support group. I thought it was appropriate to post here, as it has much to do with the home. As before, if you are interested in this group, contact me via email:

This picture is called "Going Home" by Consuela Gamboa.


Lydia said...

In case there is any misunderstanding: there is nothing wrong with going on excursions with sons and daughters! The references to this is when the grown children have a disdainful disrespect for their parents and never own up to it. Those who have disturbed the home, railed against their parents etc. do not deserve to be entertained.

Katherine said...

I had a question I was wondering if you could comment on. . . . Are there circumstances where the parents SHOULD need to EARN respect? For example, when a parent abuses drugs or alcohol?

Lydia said...

I know a man who is a drug user and and alcoholic and his son, after learning the reason for respect, still treats him with respect rather than disdain. Respecting someone doesn't mean that you have to let them live with you or that you participate in their folly. It can be illustrated by the following story:

A man opened the door for a woman, and she said, "Well, sir, you must have done that because I am a lady!"

He replied, "I do not know whether or not you are a lady. I did that because I am a gentleman."

Anonymous said...

Being born in the same year as you, I actually went through a "mourning" period of how things used to be. We were to taught to be respectful to not only our parents, but to strangers as well. It mattered not if they "deserved" it. We were never allowed to call adults by their first name. Over the years it was not unusual for parents of young children to tell them, "Well, "she" wants to be called Mrs. R." as if it were totally ridiculous! In fact, when a Doctor's form asks what I wish to be called, I write Mrs. R! Even at my age, my preference is not to call my elders by their first name!

Lydia said...

I've heard all those disparaging comments about such things in the 50's, saying that it didn't really happen and that there weren't such nice families, but my husband and I remember our parents and grandparents and many other people of the times. It did happen.

Anonymous said...

As always, you write the most inspirational essays, and I am deeply grateful to you for the way you articulate the matters so dear to our hearts.

When I think about where we came from, what life was like and realize what life has now become, I feel bewildered, like a plane crash survivor, wandering around the jungle in a state of shock. I was born in 1954, and my parents were born in the teens. My grandparents, European immigrants, were born in the 1800's and all played a huge part in my formation.

I remember being still a child when the 60's really took off and feeling even then that madness was taking the place of reason. That in itself was like watching a plane crash or a train wreck!!! I remember feeling sad and frightened.

You are so right about the homes. They were smaller than the new homes today and not, as you say, "decorated" but they were indeed kept neat and tidy and were cherished. The furnishings were sparser and simpler and so, easier to care for. I remember when people would come to visit us for the first time, or when we visited someone else for the first time, the mother of the home would eventually invite the guests to tour the house. This was possible because the bedrooms and bathrooms were routinely kept clean and orderly so it didn't freak a hostess out for the guests to see the upstairs. Maybe that is just an Italian thing, but I remember it so clearly.

Putting shoes on furniture was not tolerated, and taking a pillow off a bed and putting it on the floor to lay on for tv watching was unthinkable. We never brought food and glasses into our bedrooms, nor into the car, for that matter. Maybe because there weren't fast-food places and paper cups with lids, and people didn't live in their cars the way they seem to today. What this means to me is that we valued our homes, our things, and treated them like they should last us for a lifetime.
They, like people, were not to be traded up for something better or kicked to the curb on a whim.

Yes, we respected our elders, and to this day I will address my friends' elderly parents by Mr. or Mrs. I remember my father's disgust when a young man I had grown up with, upon seeing my Dad for the first time in several years, addressed him saying "Hello, Sam, how are you doing?" Yuck.

As a young child I remember revering teachers as those who had a vocation and whose morals and dignity were above reproach. What a shock when I recently listened to teachers who are my neighbors and their colleagues sit around talking about what jerks some of their students are, referring to them with vulgar cusswords. There mouths are so dirty you would be appalled and incredulous to hear it, I'm sure.

This coarsening of society hurts everybody, from aging parents to to the single mother who has no car and so balances her baby in front of her on her bike as she brings her to the daycare center on her way to work (true story), to the government who subsidizes the daycare as the woman goes to a low-paying job while her baby is being cared for by women who themselves make minimum wage. Where are the men? Nobody knows.

May God have mercy on us and help us find our way back to Him and to real living once more. May He help us to be a witness to Him and an example of holiness and right living to this generation.

Lydia said...

This is what I call "culture shock."

I well remember the first wedding shower I attended where the guests came in shorts and tee shirts and tennis shoes, from a basketball team. They flopped all over the floor in the hostess's nice house. They made fun of some of the gifts, passing around the tea set while laughing at the idea of having a "wee spot of tea."

Some of this casual behavior came from college life, where they routinely crash in each other's rooms and play with other people's personal belongings. They have no regard for others.

This culture eventually creeps into the home, before we can stop it.

We need to take back the culture, by creating our own, based on a good standard.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned the coarsening of society hurting everyone.

Let me give you a scenerio: A couple who raised a large family was getting ready to spend their later years on a nice piece of property and indulge in their hobbies,including gardening, and building.

One by one, their grown children came back, after broken lives, to live with them. They would move back out as fast as they moved in, but it caused a disturbance.

After that, there were grown grandchildren who came and stayed awhile for free while they tried to get their lives together.

Then the grandchildren brought children that they couldn't take care of.

The beautiful house that the elderly couple took such pride in, deteriorated from lack of care. The older couple just weren't left in peace long enough to maintain it. The younger ones kept having problems and couldn't get their lives together.

I used to go and check on them. I was shocked at how dirty and uncared for the house was. When they were younger, they took such pride in it.

When we were young, we wanted to build our parents a house and do things for them, not tear down what they built up. The goals and dreams of these children and grandchildren were completely different than their grandparents.

Lydia said...

I was happy to hear Dr. Phil tell the rebellious teen daughter that her behavior was outrageous and unacceptable. She kept using excuses that her mother was "too repetitive," and that "she didn't want to hear it over and over."

Well, good grief. No one wants to repeat themselves, either. The girl ought to have heeded the first time and then the mother would not have been compelled to repeat herself.

Our parents would not have repeated more than twice and then we would have been shipped off somewhere worse.

Lydia said...

Remembering your father's disgust when someone said, "Hey, Sam, how you doing?" reminded me of the shock I had at church in the 70's when a young man was called on for prayer in the assembly. He said, "Hey God, hi. Dad, I just wanna tell you...I just wanna thank you...Bye."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous you are right: we mourned the fact that some elitist who thought they should change the nature of our society, from our architecture and our family style to our religious beliefs.

We felt a wonderful life was stolen from us, but the horror of it could not have been less keenly felt than by those who lived in the Victorian era who watched their polite society crumble at the hands of modernists.

Linda Lichter's book was mentioned in one of the comments in a post by Mrs. Alexandre. At every turn there appeared to be an attempt to trash the way of life of that generation, but why? It was because of pride and greed and rebellion.

I do remember some of these elderly people heartbroken at the burning down of the old Victorian houses. This was before the historial society stepped in and saved some of them. In the 20th century, people ridiculed these house, threw rocks at them and vandalized them. They didn't understand the nature of to why they were created and what they were used for and how they were lived in. They didn't understand the value of the home and the preciousness of the family.

I was invited once to lunch at one of these houses. The woman and her husband who lived there were at the time quite old, I thought, but then, I was only 21.I was surprised to find out that his mother was living with them. She was wearing the lovely pin-tucked high necked blouse and long skirt. Her white hair was coiled in a bun.

Though she came to church with her son and daughter, but I am sure she felt uncomfortable with the things that other people were wearing in the 60's. (She was almost 90 years old, so she would have been about 30 before 1900, fully familiar with the trends and habits of the 1800's. I can imagine how bewildered she must have felt at the difference in her world.

Most of us enjoy change, but not outrageous, rebellious change in character that leaves you reeling. I'm sure she and her son and daughter in law must have felt the impact of the 60's. It wasn't just we who were born in the 50's who felt it, but those poor souls who had lived in an earlier time when families were revered.

Anonymous said...

This statement "I've read that the rebellion of the 1920's did far more damage" (than the 60's) reminds me of the book "Cheaper by the Dozen" by the Gilbreths. It's a humorous family book that also shows what appeared to me to be some major changes in society. The teens seem like older children and not like young adults. They are in their own world with its own dress and language and some of them are flippant in attitude as well as speech. The mobility for teens that came with cars helped separate the family. Chaperones became outmoded and morals seemed looser.

Anonymous said...

Even today I feel very, very "other worldly" and it is because of my beliefs and lifestyle.
I dress modestly and do not enjoy the roughness of society...
Especially rudness, it is one thing to be ignorant but it is another just to be crude for the sake of being accepted.
I just visited a young 15 year old girl in the hospital today, her grandmother is trying to raise her, she ran away from home and then when she returned attempted suicide. I believe it is because of a failed relationship with a boy. It is so sad to see this brokeness in one so young... A girl this age shouldn't even know much about boys. This is what our culture has taught, it is rampant. It is a shame, but I believe there is hope, when someone turns to God, He can heal and give them a new beautiful life.
I have experienced it firsthand, I was raised in the late 60s and 70s and was just another product of that rebellious time, and it is much, much worse today, but when I was in my early 20s God moved in my life and changed me.... And if we live the example, others can see it too. It is truly a light set on a hill....

Anneatheart said...

This article struck a chord in me. I am 24 years old, but my whole life I've felt like I was born in the wrong century! I know I'm not, but have loved reading and hearing about life at the turn of the century. Thankfully I had grandparents who filled me with information and stories of their life to carry with me. I feel so privileged to have that. Now I find myself trying to recapture this way of life in my
home with my little ones. It's so very difficult, but I'm trying. I too tire of the life that's flashed on TV and the overall attitude of kids and young adults these days. And don't get me started on the fashions!