All kids deserve RESPECT (even when they misbehave)!
In a particular jail in Miami about 10 years ago, the break-out rate, levels of conflict and
drug abuse were the highest of all jails in the U.S. In came a new governor who sent all
prison staff on Customer service Training. When they returned they began to treat the
prisoners as if they were customers! And 2 years later the jail had the lowest break-out,
conflict, and drug abuse rates! …All down to one word, one change in attitude, and that
was – RESPECT!
Instead of seeing the prisoners in a negative light based on their histories, they began to
respect their‘innate dignity and worth’as human beings. Very often, RESPECT is the
most under-estimated, un-recognized, and un-used power. If this prison staff could forget
the histories of those hard-core criminals and respect them for who they are and create
miracles, what about the little mistakes which my child, my parent, my spouse, my friend,
my community member, my parishioner, my employee, my neighbor commits?
And we are all related. The jail staff had no relation at all and moreover, their minds were
trained to say that prisoners are criminals. But, they totally forgot that they were a prison
staff and operated from a different perspective. And this can be done with anyone!
Teachers can do it with students, healers with patients, parents with children, friends with
friends.A child of God giving respect to another child of God…and miracle happens! This
is Empowerment…this is real magic!
When we think of the word ‘respect’, we look at it as something that we are supposed to
get from people. They should respect me! It’s so easy to say, “But they don’t respect me,
then how can I respect them?” or “They did such a thing that I lost all respect for them.”
Do I have to wait for you to respect me…to start respecting you? Remember, respect is
not a commodity to be exchanged. It has nothing to do with what the other is! It’s not
about the other person being worthy of my respect...it’s about my nobility of heart and
attitude. If a jail staff can do this to so-called criminals, and a governor can think of such a
beautiful thing, why can’t I do that to my friend, my child, my spouse?
Parents and teachers always think children have to respect them, what are parents and
teachers supposed to do for children? …Create fear in them? Let’s be clear that fear can
definitely never be respect. If I fear you, it means I don’t like you. We can never fear and
love the same person. There is a thin line between discipline and fear. If we are being
critical, irritated by the way others are working, and thus getting them disciplined, we are
sending them the negative energy of fear. And then whenever they are in our company,
they will fear us. Merely to avoid displeasing us, they will do things. Now this is not at all
the energy of respect and love. Maintaining our inner calm and stability, we can positively
So, it’s very important to ask ourselves…in our relationships what’s the energy that we
are giving to each other. The minute I get judgemental about you, I have blocked my
respect for you immediately because now you are not the way I want you to be. Dear
Parents and teachers, if we didn’t like the way our parents and teachers treated us and we
remember those few wounds even today, then why we continue to do the same with our
children and also with others?
As parents and teachers, the builders of the destiny, let’s take ‘LOVE’ as our guide and
make effort to erect the palace of life of our children on the foundations of love. If we put
intellect in the very foundation, then the building that arises is a factory. And if a life is to
be made into a temple, the foundations should be laid in love. May each one of us become
a brick in the creation of a new culture – a culture to whom Love comes first,
mathematics later, because no mathematics can deceive the one who has learnt to
“The respect we show to others (or lack thereof) is an immediate reflection on our own
Sr. Rekha Punia