August 2012



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Delphic Maximum #4: Respect Your Parents

I really struggled with what to write for this particular maximum. I have the benefit of following a lot of established and well written bloggers through these maximums and their answers have helped to prompt more insight than I use in my writing. I take whatever my gut gives me and write it out before I've processed all the complexities and subtleties the subject offers. Part of that is nice because it would be days before I had everything I think written down and part of it is frustrating because sometimes what should have been my main point is lost in a side tangent because it took me three pages to write the core of what I wanted to get out.

So far, everything I've written has a tone of denial or been conditional in a way that I know my mother would source as my inherent contrary nature. Any absolute offered or implied absolute, I feel required to challenge. Even thinking of what she would say to these responses, knowing she would never read them and knowing that she would never be able to get over the non-Christian nature of them to be truly critical, rankles me.

My relationship with my parents is troubled and our primary area of stress ties to my non-Christ based faith. This stress does strain our ability to adequately display love or respect for each other.

And I do love my parents quite a bit. I want to please them and make them proud of me. I want us to agree on our standards for living and morality. I just won't do any of this at the expense of my sense of self or what's right, a strength of character than I credit entirely to my mother.

I still go to them for advice and I consider their advice heavily. It tears at me when I have to go against it, if that's the case, but it doesn't stop me from following me first. This consideration for their words and contributions should show respect. True, it is a respect I would offer anyone who gives me advice or shares their life experience with me, which makes me wonder if there is a certain quantity of respect one needs to give and if I've given my parents their fair share. Would they be insulted to know how I weight their words vs others? Do they feel slighted every time I do my own thing and does that come down to a lack of thought or respect or is it truly just a different world view? How much is enough, am I right or are they or is there some object middle ground? It's heart breaking for me and I wonder how many others feel this way in a quite corner of the world where they don't voice it.

I do think most people world over want to respect their parents and elders. We argue over what that means. We all want to assert that we value this without thinking about it and we want to assert that we do respect our parents. I know I am hurt by the idea that I don't respect my parents adequately but in the same moment I am hurt by the concept that I must follow their path or there is no true respect or understanding between us.

Because my relationship is fraught with the same insecurities I've had since teen-dom, this maximum makes me think of being young and how I treated my parents then. It was not always with the respect they deserved, particularly where paganism was involved. I violently rejected Catholicism. Now, I wish I could have been kinder. There was fault on both sides, but I have a lot more sympathy for their thoughts and feelings on the subject now. I feel like I'll always be trying to make up for that mistake. Its not something I regret what I told them then is essentially true though I regret how harsh and intense I was about it. Who knows, maybe nothing but that kind of rejection would have ever made them understand, I know on some levels now, they don't get it still.

In some regards, though I listen and consider counsel from my parents, I don't feel I respect them now because I am always holding back and couching what I mean to be at the level I think they can handle. Is it disrespectful for me to hold back my truth feelings and understandings for the sake of another's comfort? Is it it inherently disrespectful to reject another's view point or to believe one knows better even when the other has or possibly has more experience than oneself in the subject?

I don't think that a person has earned respect just because they reach the age or fertility, had sex, and were able to birth another human being. I've never been one to agree with the idea that one should have to respect any other being just because. My parents have been good to me. They provided for me above and beyond the bare minimum required. They have stood beside me in battle for what they think is part of my rights or part of what I've earned. They look out for me and my interests as best as they can. This sort of person whether a friend, family member or partner, should be cherish, valued and respected. It's always hard when their standards and yours don't line up though, particularly if the person in question was a care taker for you is all.