A Child’s Story: Dignity and Respect

Two of the most valuable resources we have:  Dignity and Respect.  One of my favorite stories goes like this:

An eight-year-old girl was taken out her new classroom and questioned by a county social worker.  The school had become concerned when they realized that this little girl and her two brothers lived in a homeless shelter with their parents.  Although clean, the little girl wore clothing that was ragged with age and a little small.  Her reading was on grade level and she quite aware of current events.  Somewhat reticent to speak up, when prompted, the little girl gave thoughtful answers.  The concern?  That the little girl may need to be placed in foster care, to be able to remain in school and continue her education in a consistent manner (not disappearing to another new school in a week or so).

“Do your parents think they will get jobs soon?” asked the nice social worker.  “They try every day to find something,” answered the girl.

“How long can your family stay in the homeless shelter?”

“I don’t know.”

“So you don’t have a home now or one that you will have soon?”

“Oh,” brightened the little girl, “We have a home, we just don’t have a house to put it in.”

The little girl was not taken out her family or her “home.”

With an innate sense of dignity, this little girl prevented a chain of events that may have been quite devastating to she and her family.  I believe she taught the adults around her about respecting the power of family and love.

I don’t know why one child is able to demonstrate a quiet dignity of self, but I suspect it has to do with how he his personality interprets what he experiences and then turns his own expectations into something that demands dignity from himself for himself; and, when treated respectfully, offers that same dignity and respect to others.

With respect for others, we grow in our dignity of self.  When we demean, debase or critically judge others. we lessen our own dignity.  We make it that much harder for all of us to grow in empathy and compassion–whatever the cause.

Be gentle with yourself as you go forward in demonstrating and living with dignity and respect.

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6 Responses to A Child’s Story: Dignity and Respect

  1. Pingback: You get what you pay for | Serendipity

    • dearfriends says:

      Thank you for listing this post on your site. Your observations about manners and respect are giving me second thoughts—I’m one of those that think that traditional family dinner time is important, but perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture of how individual families achieve “traditional” values, without the installation of “old methods.” Thanks, Barb

  2. Melynda says:

    This was beautiful, and I’m so incredibly touched by the story. The strength and grace of this little girl. It says allot about the love and commitment her parents have for each other and their children or child. They have taught her to realize as long as they are together they have a home. This gives the child a sense of safety and pride.

    Coming from a childhood of the complete opposite, this makes my soul sing with joy when I see hope for our children (our future) and incredible strength in our parents even when faced with adversity.

    Thank you again for this incredible story, you made my day!

    • dearfriends says:

      Hello Melynda,
      Isn’t it amazing how the strength and grace of children can lead us to greater expectations for ourselves and our world? Thank you for visiting with such a thoughtful comment. Peace, Barb

  3. umie Kalsoom says:

    I’m a teacher of primary level. I’m not surprised by the way the girl responded!
    Infact children are wiser to appreciate the spirits of love and abstract ideas of values.
    She reminds me my childhood when people offered to help bt a child’s dignity always resisted to welcome such things on the cost of dignity! But unfortunately the adults who are supposed to be BIG behave the other way!
    I thank u for such a wonderful and heart touching story! I’m hopeful that one day she will get each pleasure of life coz she knows the flavor of Dignity!!

    • dearfriends says:

      Thank you for your comments. And, thank you for being a teacher of primary grades! I think if we used “dignity” as a guidepost to our interactions with others, we would enjoy a world of equality and compassion.

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