Revere-ware: Teaching Your Child Respect for Older People

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD." -Leviticus 19:32

The dictionary defines ware as having skills or talents offered as a service or a commodity, prudent. How practical God’s Word is when He not only tells us to respect and revere elderly people but actually gives us a practical way to reflect a heart that acknowledges the value of the “wares” of older people.

Our culture places great value on “old things” but what about old people? As you evaluate the values that you want your child to have when they grow up, is being respectful and showing mercy to those who are old on your list, the same as God’s list?

Much of life is reactive, but it is so much better to be proactive. However, that takes an intentional plan.

Our current culture as a whole does not really revere older people. Look around at all the products to prevent aging, prolong youth, even “cut” out the old and put in new. Cosmetic surgery establishments are everywhere. As a Grammie, I have joined the ranks on a few levels
– coloring my hair, keeping my dress and my hairstyle “current.’’ But I have to tell you, it is getting tiring. I would rather just let my hair grow white. I would love to have the freedom to just age. Keeping fit and healthy is challenging enough without having to mask aging in the process. Discussing this with my peers is enlightening. The consensus is that we will be respected less, ignored more, and become an embarrassment to our children and grandchildren if we don’t work to stay young. How did we get to this state?

Your generation might have the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of future generations. But it will take a plan. As a woman, think about yourself growing older. How do you want your children to see you? How much influence will you have over their ideas? How much influence will the culture have?

Do you value the input of older women or do you listen only in-part, concluding that what they think isn’t relative today – their ideas are from “back when.” The Bible tells us in Psalm 92 that the righteous will still bear fruit in old age. Does this mean that we should look for what older people can teach us about God?

Young moms need to set goals that flow from their worldview. Memorize this verse with your child and talk about actions that you both can do that reflect the truth of this scripture:

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD." -Leviticus 19:32

Some actions could include:

  • Ask an older woman or couple to pray for you and your family. Share your needs with them. Help your child see that this person has loved God for a long time. Help your child see this person is special because they pray for you and them. Help your child value that this person has lived a long time and learned many things
  • Teach your child by example to be excited to see this older person. Teach your children to give them hugs or shake their hands – and of course, there is always the “give me 5.” Have your children draw pictures to give to them write letters, send
  • cards, share little crafts. Tell the older friends you pray for them, Young people are typically always in a hurry, older people are usually more laid back, less rushed and ready to take time to enjoy the moment of conversation. Don’t rush by, instead plan to spend a few minutes talking. Most older people love to hear the little details of your day and love to hear stories your children tell – you may have to interpret some! For some, it has been a long time since a child was a regular part of their life
  • If you don’t have someone close to you who is older or you are not in a position to visit an assisted living facility, start by talking about older people by using pictures in magazines, people on TV, etc. If you don’t have family members close to you, look around for some older people who don’t have anyone younger living close by and adopt each other.
  • Put into your vocabulary positive discussion about growing old.
  • As you teach manners, help children understand and exhibit ways to show respect…to see that older people go first in a line, that older people are given a seat first, etc. Often I see older people politely allowing a mom with young children to take a seat. Valid as that may be, maybe declining and allowing the older person the seat is a start to modeling for your child – and others who might be watching – that age should be valued. And if you really need to be seated instead of the older person, point out to your child how helpful the older person was to you.
  • Help your child understand that as people age, things change. Some have to move slower because they have medical problems and their bodies slow down. Teach your child to respect this change by not running through a crowd and pushing aside older people, to recognize that they might not be as steady as a younger person (watch out for the running and pushing at church). But inside they still think like just like mommy and daddy.
  • When you pray with your child, pray for this person or persons. Put their names on a prayer list on your child’s wall. Choose specific older people who you will remember on holidays. Talk about being older as a special time of life.

If you respect and value older people, your child will too. Plan these moments in the life of your child. You could be growing a lifelong friendship that will give your child security and wisdom – and you, too.

Written by: Sherry Bitler