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Faith: Family that respects each other incredible gift


March 6, 2019

The Dad came up in conversation this past week, again. Since he daily dances through my mind, it isn’t a big leap to find him in a conversation.

This time, it wasn’t because of a funny Dad story; it was about respect.

I had wandered into a group talking about the idea of respect, whether anyone deserves it, whether you give it or someone has to earn it, and how “respect” looks. Turns out, this conversation started because of an episode of a reality TV show, involving screaming, shoving and name-calling by a bunch of adults, most of whom were family.

While it may make for good television, the notion of screaming at a family member because they “disrespected” you seems … well … a little disrespectful. And sad.

This is where The Dad entered the conversation.

I said that growing up, the mantra was “conduct yourself in such a manner that at the end of the day, you can look yourself in the mirror.” So, we did (mostly). The Dad didn’t have to raise his voice (much); just the idea that I would disappoint him was devastating to me. He had “the look,” and no one wanted that.

One of the people in the group said that he had no idea what I was talking about; so, I said maybe it’s a generational thing. His response: “Oh, you mean old?”

It was a funny moment, despite the twinge in my gut.

In thinking about it, “old” had nothing to do with it. Maybe old school is a more appropriate phrase.

I learned from my parents who learned from theirs, who learned from theirs, on back through the generations. Growing up, there was a standard set, and it meant something to follow it. It wasn’t about getting The Dad’s approval. It was about doing what needed to be done, whether it was following a standard or meeting an obligation. Whatever our circumstances, we had to live up to our obligations.

If you have a job to do, do it without excuses. If there’s a problem, fix it. Someone else has a problem? Help them. We had the “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all,” rule growing up. Not always an easy one to follow, but you eat fewer words that way. We respected our elders; I still call The Dad’s friends Mr. or Mrs. to this day.

We can be loud in my family, and goofy, and even a bit raucous. We’ve had some tough times; then again, who hasn’t? We are known to prank one another, and there have been some epic pranks. I’ve been on the losing side of that equation a time or 12.

We don’t always agree. But whether we are together or apart, we treat one another with dignity and respect (despite the pranks).

What an incredible gift that is. I don’t have to worry about what family members may say or do. I know there will be teasing. I know there will be pranks. I know there will be loud shenanigans. But I also know they have my back, and vice versa.

This probably doesn’t have the ratings power of a reality TV family, but it keeps me grounded. What’s so-so for the ratings is perfect for the soul.

Patti Dobson writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact her at:

[email protected]


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