A Culture of Respect

“Children honor your father and your mother ~ this is the first commanment with a promise ~ that all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”

I just returned from a visit with Jill and OJ at their new home in Redskins land, and this verse ran through my mind over and over while I was there. When I arrived on Wednesday, OJ’s father and his ‘uncle’ Mr. Aliu, along with his brother and cousin, were all in town to help unload boxes and assemble what needed assembling. We’ve certainly spent some time together over the past year during Jill and OJ’s engagement, and each hour I spend with the Atogwe’s and Aliu’s I grow more and more fascinated by their story. Mr. Atogwe and Mr. Aliu were from nearby villages in Nigeria, and each of them left their young wife and baby for Canada, a land that provided far more opportunities for them than their native Africa. They worked together and saved until they could send for their young families back in Nigeria. But what is most fascinating to me is the relationship between the two families. Because the children of both families grew up together, they refer to each other’s parents as ‘Mommy and Daddy’, and not in name only. I’ve learned that the level of respect is expected for both sets of parents. In other words, OJ grew up never knowing anything other than to bestow upon Mr. Aliu the same amount of respect as he does his own father. And in conversing with OJ about it, I could tell that there was never any question about it, either. I find that very admirable.

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OJ with a big hug for his Dad

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Daddy Aliu helping unpack boxes

I am a proponent of people having a global perspective, of helping the less fortunate. But I wonder if it isn’t easier to look elsewhere; to set our sights outside of our own homes and families, rather than to do the hard work of teaching our children to honor and respect us as parents and on a larger scale, their elders. I witnessed a horrifying dialogue between an elderly man and a late-teens young man that parked in the handicapped spot in front of a store. The older man challenged the young guy about parking there, to which the young guy launched into a disrespectful response that began with ‘shut up old man’ … and ended with profanities. I was shocked and amazed; and nauseous. I couldn’t imagine how a young person could make it to his late teens with no clue about respecting his elders, although I know that more and more kids are growing up without the benefit of knowing that respecting and honoring parents blesses their life

As I watched OJ interact with his Daddy and his Daddy Aliu, I saw first hand the promise of that verse. He honors them whole heartedly, and it does, indeed, go well for him. He’s a blessed young man.

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Let’s train our children to respect and honor their parents, starting as young pre-schoolers. And if you have a hard time doing so yourself, perhaps because your parent hasn’t been very honorable, remember that this verse carries with it a promise…that you will have long life and it will go well with you. Whatever dishonor your parent may have brought you really isn’t on you…it’s between them and God. We need to bring honor and respect back in our homes, in our schools, and in our nation.




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