My girlfriend comes from
a family that spends most of their time putting each other and their friends
down. They even laugh and ridicule
strangers walking on the street. Do you
have any ideas about this? It seems
strange to me, but my girlfriend just thinks I am too sensitive.
either teach respect or they do not teach it.
Respect for others needs to be modeled and learned. In healthy families, respect is a very
important element. It sounds to me like
your sensitivity reflects your awareness that a certain amount of respect is
missing in your girlfriend’s family.
Over time, she too will have exposure to other people and families to
learn a healthy sense of respect for herself and
others. The two go hand in hand. The following outlines ways that healthy
families encourage and demonstrate the development of respect:
Individuality is special and honored in
a healthy family. Diversity is seen as
bringing richness into the family.
Self-respect requires that one knows
oneself and feels respected enough to have the confidence to act on certain
principles. A lack of self-respect makes
one vulnerable to “going along with the crowd” to gain acceptance by others.
Healthy families show a willingness to
respect individuals while not necessarily implying approval of their
behavior. One of the most difficult
responsibilities parents have is to teach their children to respect the rights
of people they may disagree with because of religion, race, of politics.
Individuals in healthy families are
encouraged to make decisions appropriate to their age and to live with the
consequences. In unhealthy families or
marriages, individual decisions are met with criticism and belittlement that
erodes self worth and respect.
Respect for the property of others is
taught in healthy families. The family
members ask before using or “borrowing” another’s property. Destruction of other people’s property or
petty shoplifting is not tolerated. They
take the time and effort to get this kind of behavior stopped immediately if it
for others begins in the home where individuals are respected for their
uniqueness and it grows from there.