Contemporary life is defined by transitions, especially in adolescence, in myriad ways, including the personal realm and social spheres. Accelerated mental, emotional, physical, social development, the ability to formulate goals and achieve them, preparing for a world that does not yet exist. The word respect might seem old-school. It is about how we think of ourselves in relation to others and how we treat others. It indicates a core value whose meaning was widely understood to older generations.  In the past, when people were mutually dependent, respect for self and others was essential for society to function well.

Factors such as age, maturity, authority, social roles, gender, autonomy, all entered into the consideration of respect towards self and others. In today’s world of independence constantly escalated by technology, and outmoded institutions and organizations, criteria for respectful regard of others seems diminished. Other factors, cultural diversity, lack of stability in home life, alter the traditional understanding of respect. Yet, even though its meaning has changed, respect remains a basic component of how we function in life. In an age of extreme relativism and utilitarianism, human dignity is often ignored, neglected, disparaged, or wantonly abused. Yet dignity is inherent in what it means to be human. Special attention and focus is needed for young people to understand that essence so that they can mature into happy, successful, relational adults.

Many factors make up the concept of respect. Some of these are indicated by contemporary words commonly used today that have more specific contexts, such as resiliency, transitions, identity, bodily image. The unique years of adolescence introduce changes in every aspect of a person, both internal, mental, emotional, physical, and changes in relationships with parents, peers, other family members. New emotions develop, new ways of thinking, new challenges, the ability to understand one’s own emotions and set goals, the ability to consider the needs of others, the necessity to have good self-esteem. These factors motivate a person to be able to work towards a bright future of achievement that expresses your uniqueness and values.

This section on respect includes references and articles for teens and parents for understanding this stage of life as girls and boys mature into young women and men.