Insolence is defined as rudeness and acts of disrespect. I always picture uptight old ladies clutching their pearls about the insolence of The Youth. I also remember myself at 12, talking back to my parents, and I have my 5-year-old practicing insolence with the best – “Mama, you don’t know anything! You’re wrong about EVERYTHING!”
I find it hard to despise insolence, because that means rejecting myself and my kid. Insolence may be unacceptable in my house, but it certainly is worthy of despising.
When it comes to raising my kids, I find that sometimes if I can probe beneath the insolence, there is something else going on. Five year olds are still learning what they’re feeling and how to express that. My son has a hard time being told what to do all the time (takes after his mother). If I can give him freedom to do his own thing and/or tell stories his own way, that often alleviates his outbursts of insolence. Thankfully, he knows full well that expressing frustration and anger doesn’t mean that love is absent. He also knows that mean spiritedness and name calling (two expressions of his particular brand of insolence) are not acceptable in our house.
There is a place for acts of disrespect, for children and for grown ups. I am thinking of acts of civil disobedience, self-preservation, and some forms of protest. The difference is knowing what is deliberately disobedient (which I suppose shows a measure of respect to what is being pushed against) and what is blatant disregard and often times mere provocation.
One of the areas I am personally working on in this area is not taking the name of Christ ‘in vain.’ He isn’t my god, but he’s a god nonetheless and one that is precious to billions. It is deeply disrespectful to shout ‘Jesus Christ!’ I also don’t want to yell ‘goddamnit’ because – which god? damn the coffee table for getting in my way?
This may seem minor, and also very silly, especially to those who know me. I have the mouth of a sailor. I adore the F word. I use it liberally. But using the names of the gods in this way feels like an egregious act of disrespect.