Do We Teach Honor or Respect?

When families think about honor, they often restrict their thinking to respectful behavior, being polite, courteous, and having good manners. This is a rather narrow understanding and is only a small portion of what honor actually is. Respectful behavior, although a subset of honor, is incomplete in and of itself.

Susie learned manners at an early age. "What a nice girl," people would say. Susie learned acceptable behavior but as she grew older she rebelled against the rules, finding them empty and overly restrictive. Teaching respect is not enough.

Honor comes when you recognize a person's worth or value. Respect focuses on behavior, doing the appropriate thing, whereas honor comes from the heart. Respect acknowledges a person's position, while honor attaches worth to that person. Respect teaches manners and proper behavior in the presence of others. Honor teaches something deeper, an appreciation of that person.

Respect can become an outward technique to make a family look good to others, but honor builds the hidden bonds that provide great strength and long-lasting unity. It's one thing to obey the crossing guard out of respect for his position. It's yet another to show honor to him because you know him as a friend.

Although we're making a contrast between respect and honor, don't assume that honor is good and respect is bad. Both have their place. When children are young, they learn respectful behavior, but as they grow older, they can develop a heart response of honor as well. It's good to teach respectful behavior but it's important that you not stop there. Honor adds a deeper dimension to relationships.

Honor deals with meanness in relationships. Honor does a job thoroughly and with a good attitude. Honor looks for what needs to be done before being asked. All children (and adults) need to learn honor. Teaching it makes a big difference in family life.

How have you seen honor demonstrated in your family?

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. This article talks extensively about the differences between honor and respect. I think it's easy to see how we teach our children to respect, but how do we teach honor? I know it's probably earned more than taught, but what are some practical ways we can encourage our children to honor us?

  2. My husband & I started teaching honor to our son when he was 3. We started with greeting or responding to a greeting and then took opportunities to honor age by holding the door open for others to go first and allowing our elders to exit their pews at church before we went by. Our son has received many compliments out in public when he holds the door for others and that has reinforced how that little act of honor makes someone feel special. This has become a habit in him and now that he is 12, it certainly sets him apart from many of his peers. It's a blessing to watch him grow to be a young man who is characterized by how he shows honor to his elders.

  3. This article has helped me see the hole in the relationship between my 11 year old son and my 12 year old daughter. I've been trying to teach them to respect each other, but that focuses on their behavior. While respect is good, it's not enough. Now I know the missing piece; they need to value each other and show it. When I've successfully taught that, they'll develop a bond that will last a lifetime.

    Thank you for a great article!


  4. I always thought that honor was knowing they are my parents, honoring them for that since God has commanded us to. But I thought respect was something that they (the abusive parent) had to earn by being respectful, themselves. According to this article, I am not thinking correctly. My husband is an angry, abusive man. I have taught my kids that they need to honor him (as above), because he is their dad. But that he will earn their respect as he shows them respect.
    I need guidance.

  5. Peggy. Thanks for sharing. It seems that the biblical concept of honor has to do with valuing someone even if they have been unkind or foolish. We get that from passages such as Romans 13:1-2 for example where the governmental leaders aren't honored based on their good actions, but honored because of their position. That brings an interesting challenge to family life. How do we practically honor someone we might not respect? We may still have to set boundaries on a hurtful parent or limit interaction at times, but there is a way that we do that that's important. I hope that helps a bit. You might want to look at the book we wrote on this subject called Say Goodbye to Whining Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids. There's a chapter in that book that talks about honoring people we have a hard time valuing.

    1. This is a good response. ANd there is a difference between honor and respect. To me, respect is an outward show and honor comes from the inside out and is genuine from the heart.

  6. In response, you do not teach your children to honor you unless you lead by example. It is caught not taught. Honor comes from their own heart which you as a parent can only pray. The heart is theirs for the making. Lead by example, adult child.

  7. M.E. I like your contrast between honor and respect. Although they are often used as synonyms in the Bible, their differences do imply exactly what you're saying, that honor is more from the heart and respect has more to do with behavior.

    I also like the way you emphasize modeling. Kids learn from us in a number of ways. We teach through our words, by practicing right actions, through experiences, but we must not forget that kids also learn through our modeling. Thank you