“She’s the top of the family tree”
What a wonderful description of a lovely great-grandmother! Caleb is 10 years old and has learned the importance of valuing his elders. Caleb is the grandson of my friend, Alice Marie. She recently took Caleb to see her mother and Alice Marie told me how patient Caleb was in waiting as “Nana” walked carefully everywhere they went. He opened the door for her and held her hand as she got herself completely out of the car and steady. Alice Marie took the following pictures and I thought how well they show respect for our elders.
This is something we must make the effort to instill in our children and grandchildren – respect for their elders. Our culture does not celebrate aging. In fact, our culture tends to worship youth, with aging something to avoid, hide, surgically alter, even lie about. There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying physically fit, looking our best at whatever age, and practicing good health habits. Yet aging is part of living – the alternative is…not living!
Some practical ways to teach our children respect for their elders are:
- be an example of respect, model respect yourself for your elders
- give up your seat, if needed, to an older person
- let the elders go first in line, standing long periods can often be hard for them
- serve them food first, this shows deference, but elders also often eat more slowly
- LISTEN when they speak
- turn off mobile devices, they deserve your full attention
- play games together that elders want to play
- try to minimize background noise when visiting with elders, it will make them hear you more easily
- let elders have the best chair/sofa seat – show them you know they are special
The greatest influence will be our personal behavior. Yet we should also ask our children and grandchildren “How can we make Great-grandma feel welcome?” “What do you think Great-grandpa would like to do?” Children are very insightful and will be more engaged in doing things if it is their idea.
In the Bible Paul gives advice to Timothy who he is mentoring as a follower of Christ. Paul tells Timothy to treat people certain ways according to their age and gender.
I Timothy 5: 1-4
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
The BEST reason for teaching children to show respect for their elders is that it pleases God.
Alice Marie told Caleb how proud she was of they way he treated his great-grandmother.
“Well,” said Caleb “She is the
Center of our Family,
Top of the Family Tree,
The one who gets us all together.”
May we please God by honoring our elders.