I don’t teach my kids to respect their elders.

Last week I wrote about my run in with our neighbour, you can read about it here but in summary she was really nasty to my smallest 2 for making too much noise in the garden whilst playing and then when I went to apologise and ask (respectfully – I’m British) that she speaks to me directly in future, I was met with a barrage of insults about how I wasn’t fit and couldn’t control my horrible, nasty children.

Anyway, this isn’t a rehash of that post – but rather off the back of that post there was something else I wanted to talk about: I don’t teach my kids to respect their elders. Now before you all pull out the shocked emoji and start thinking I have no manners – hear me out. I was raised on the principal of “respect your elders” and it’s something I’ve actively chosen not to pass on to my kids. In this instance, an old lady – a mean, unkind old lady at that – shouted at my 2 and 4 year old for making noise. Was there any respect for them, from person to person? No there wasn’t, there was rudeness and aggression when a simple “Excuse me little ones, could you make a bit less noise please, it’s very difficult to relax over here when you keep screaming” or “Excuse me, can you get your mummy for me?” would have sufficed.

So, why is that relevant to not teaching my kids about respecting their elders? Simple: “Respect your elders” has become a get out of jail free card for people who are older to use and forget that they have manners, especially when speaking to younger people and that just isn’t cool. Here’s the thing, we get it, you’re 82 and you’ve lived a full and rich life – you know more than me AND my kids put together about living… but that doesn’t mean you get to be an arsehole and my kids or I just have to take it.

The fundamental issue here is that being old seems to equate to being allowed to say and do what you like – and everyone just has to put up with it, but the “youth of today are so rude and don’t respect their elders!”

Just no.

I teach my children to be respectful of everyone – from their class mates to elderly strangers. Be kind, be respectful – but do not take shit just because someone is older than you. If someone is rude to you, walk away but you don’t have to take as gospel something that someone says. You CAN challenge poor behaviour from someone who is your elder and there is nothing wrong with that provided you do it respectfully. This is why I went to see our next door neighbour and tell her that her behaviour was unacceptable and that in future I would prefer she came to speak to me and I would speak to my children about being too loud in the garden. I felt that this underlines to my children that it doesn’t matter whether someone is older than you, you have to be respectful and treat others with kindness – and when she didn’t do that, I called her on it because you have to stand up for injustice in life. The same as I would stand up for her if they had responded rudely – two wrongs don’t (always – another blog post there) make a right.

I don’t teach my kids to respect their elders because that isn’t what life is about. I teach my kids to respect everyone and question the shit out of the world until they make it a better place.


  1. May 23, 2018 / 9:43 am

    Completely agree. I would rather teach mutual respect – which is what I do. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they have any more rights and deserve any more respect simply because they happened to be born before you.

  2. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    September 23, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    LOL This is why East Asia is better. Kids actually respect elders there because they don’t have retarded leftist parents telling their kids to “not take shit”. What shit? Elders teaching kids life lessons?
    You’re part of the reason children are brats and terrible people nowadays.


    • Harriet September 25, 2017 / 10:10 am

      Goodness me… well thank you for your comment.
      It’s always good to know that someone has been taught the important life lessons… like how not to use words like “retarded”. Slow clap for the East Asian parents you were blessed with.

    • Poppy
      February 13, 2018 / 11:48 am

      There is nothing better about East Asia. In fact the place is the hell hole of the world. Where policeman beat animals in the street and they skin animals alive for food. The world is watching East Asia in disgust. The place is barbaric. Like your comment.

  3. August 2, 2017 / 6:42 pm

    I think apologise would have been last thing if they had shouted about noise. Key putting speakers against wall and putting on some Iron Maiden. ?

    Respect needs to go both ways really, I don’t respect anyone who doesn’t respect me. That’s the message I pass onto my kids. Treat with respect as long as they respect you otherwise they aren’t worth bothering.with

  4. Louisa
    July 29, 2017 / 10:03 am

    Surely if you’re teaching them to respect ALL people that includes their elders too? This doesn’t make much sense. What you’re actually saying is respect everyone unless they disagree with anything you say or do. Heaven forbid. For what it’s worth, if you had been outside supervising your very young children then maybe the situation wouldn’t have arose in the first place. Or maybe you just don’t care about respecting your neighbours right to enjoy their own garden in peace? Long story short, you don’t seem to have much respect for anyone and you’re potentially raising brats.

    • Harriet July 29, 2017 / 10:38 am

      Thanks for your comment Louisa. I can’t help shake the feeling you didn’t read the post at all and only the title or you just fancied a bit of trolling. I’m drawing that conclusion because you’ve said “if I had bothered to what my small children” but it clearly says in the post that I wasn’t there and had left them in someone else’s care. As I said, “respecting everyone” would encompass your elders. If someone disagrees with you – like you have me – all is well and dandy and you have to take that on the chin, reply in a respectful manner and get on with it. However if someone is rude or unkind, like you calling a 2, 4 and 6 year old “potential brats” for playing and squealing in delight in their garden… well, then they don’t warrant respect. Why would they? I can only assume that you are the type of person that would shout at small children for playing on their own property? I think that’s very sad.
      I respect everyone, including those who disagree – I might learn something and change my point of view, that’s how we grow and develop. I don’t respect bullies or have some misguided notion that because someone is older than me I have to roll with their vitriol. That is the point of the post.
      Long story short, your comment illustrates my point that you don’t have to respect people who are just unkind for the sake of it.

  5. July 9, 2017 / 11:54 pm

    I completely agree with this! I think there’s a lot old-fashioned thinking about manners and attitude out there that we have to be really careful about unconsciously passing to our kids, just because it’s what we were taught was ‘polite’. My 3-year-old daughter can be rather, erm, assertive, and I hate it when older people (like my mum!) suggest that she needs to be quieter or more appeasing… I want her to grow up confident in herself and not believing little girls have to be timid or sweet. Nothing wrong with naturally being like that, of course, but I wonder how much of kids’ personalities evolve out of trying to please us and fit into the role they think we want for them?

    • Harriet July 10, 2017 / 7:14 am

      Thanks for the lovely comment Rochelle! I always wonder that too..

  6. Youngeandwild
    July 9, 2017 / 4:51 pm

    My kids respect everyone until disrespected. We use yes ma’am, sir, please and thank you like they’re going out of style. Mommas my age are amazed by my kids manners (seeing as it’s not really a thing over here. ) They’re more worried about being friends and hurting their kids feelings ?. I don’t. So this, this is awesome. ???????? You go momma!

    • Harriet July 10, 2017 / 7:16 am

      Thank you so much! I’m with you all the way!

  7. July 9, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Agree! MY 5 year old is super polite and I’m not just being ‘one of those mums’ when I say he’s a really sweet boy. But if anyone is an arsehole to him, whatever their age, he has my full blessing to put them straight. Politely of course haha

  8. June 23, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    This is great! As a new mom (who doesn’t have to worry about things like this quite yet), it’s always on my radar of how I want to raise my son. Posts like this are ones that I put aside for future reference. Respect shouldn’t just be for elders when even just common courtesy isn’t returned.
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. June 23, 2017 / 12:08 am

    Agree with this. Respect needs to be earned, whatever the person’s age. No one should shout at anyone, least of all other people’s children x

    • Harriet June 26, 2017 / 9:45 am

      100%. It really has to be a two way thing 🙂

  10. June 21, 2017 / 12:49 pm

    I feel the same way and blogged about it also, just recently. I’m not raising a people pleaser I’m raising someone who asks questions, challenges others regardless of their age and stature in society. Great post! http://bit.ly/2skdfSg

    • Harriet June 26, 2017 / 9:47 am

      So true! Thanks you 🙂

  11. June 21, 2017 / 8:46 am

    Totally agree with you. I think when kids start off thinking “it’s okay because they’re older” then it sets them down that path of thinking it’s okay to act a certain way if you’re then older. Like the grumpus neighbour. As you say, people should treat everybody with the same level of respect. Great post. X

    • Harriet June 26, 2017 / 9:48 am

      Totally – it has to be mutual!

  12. June 20, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    I would have been mortified in that scenario, I share your point of view, people should be just kind to people. Period. It’s sad that someone might be so miserable that they take it out on perfect strangers.

    • Harriet June 26, 2017 / 9:49 am

      Thank you – it was a pretty rotten thing to do right?

  13. Paula
    June 19, 2017 / 7:43 pm

    I totally agree with this I feel exactly the same way all too often I’ve found that ‘older’ people have completely lost the concept of good manners. Be courteous to everyone be polite but respect needs to be earned.

    • Harriet June 20, 2017 / 8:57 am

      Exactly, it’s very frustrating isn’t it? Manners cost nothing and all that jazz.

  14. June 19, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    This is great. I’ve thought a few times about writing something similar but you’ve nailed it. (Also, I LOVE your ‘Pin It’ button, is that a Pinterest plugin?!) x

    • Harriet June 20, 2017 / 8:57 am

      Ahh thank you! Ohh I had it designed by Sarah from Maseys. She’s a local lady who designs all my logos and she did this then somehow figured out how to put it on as a pin it button!

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