We spoke a lot about the importance of respect today. We unpacked what both respect and disrespect can look like in their many forms and what, as adults, being treated in either of these ways can make us feel.
It was somewhat confronting for me as we were invited to recall a moment we had been treated with respect and how that had made us feel and then similarly a moment we were disrespected. You can guess which one we all found hard to do!
It made me ponder, why was it so hard for us to think of a time we felt truly respected? Is it because as RIE students we know how much is involved in respect and that it is much more than what many people traditionally think about when they think about being respectful – being polite and courteous. Do we really go about our days being constantly disrespected? I don’t think so and yet when asked to think of a moment when I felt respected, I truly struggled. Maybe it’s because when we feel disrespected, we tend to hold onto and mull over that for some time while respectful moments carry a little less power and we don’t reflect on them as much?
In the end we were all able to think of something for both of the situations. We made a list of all the things about the situations that were disrespectful/ respectful and then another list for all the things we were made to feel about being treated in such a way.
For respectful, it was lovely to listen to the other ladies share their stories about times they felt truly respected. As words such as honoured, up-lifted, relieved, cared-for, cherished and confident filled up the paper, you could feel the positive energy in the room.
When we delved into disrespected and words such as angry, helpless, alone, afraid, worthless and sad quickly made their way to the list, it was easy to see the emotional impact these events had had on us all.
When asked to reflect on the day in our journals before we left, I wrote:
Dealing with the qualities of respect and disrespect was eye-opening. The emotions that each of these actions can evoke in grown, emotionally-regulated adults was certainly food for thought. When I consider this in the context of a child, it is saddening. A young child may not even realise they are being respected or disrespected by the loved ones in their lives but without a doubt, they feel the emotions evoked inside themselves. It begins to form a part of who they are. A child constantly experiencing disrespect will learn to normalise this behaviour and the feeling they have about it. They may even come to expect it or seek it out. A strong-willed child may fight or challenge when they are made to feel that way but eventually, many children will give up the fight and accept being treated the way they are used to.
Most of these children, carry this normalcy through their lives, often passing it on to the next generation. It is a difficult cycle to recognise and break. It is one of the reasons mainstream parenting has such pull for many. It is normal for them, it is familiar. It may be disrespectful but it is what feels right because it is normal.
Getting off the disrespectful treadmill is something I have worked hard to do over the years and although working against the flow of such a force is challenging, it is better this way for my family.
Day One was intense but beautiful and inspiring. Can’t wait to see what Day Two brings.