Dignity is the virtue that helps us to see and
treat others as unique beings created in God’s image, with
intelligence, will, freedom, and the capacity to love.
help children discover and understand that every person, by the
mere fact of being a person, is worthy of respect
from conception to natural death—regardless of their age, sex, education,
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FORM THIS SENSE OF
• Our society has the mistaken idea that we should follow
our own likes and whims, even if it means trampling
someone else. In the long run, the “me first” attitude
makes it impossible to have true friendships.
• Blindness to
others’ dignity can lead to relationships where people use and
objectify each other.
• In some cases, people can think that
you are worth more and deserve more respect if you
have more material goods. This can lead people to strive
after material things to the point that they lose sight
of spiritual values and of the possibility of finding happiness
in higher ideals and goals.
• There are some rights that
are based on our innate dignity as persons. A society
that is blind to human dignity will be more likely
to accept abortion and euthanasia as a matter of convenience.
THE VIRTUE OF DIGNITY MEANS:
• Treating others with kindness and respect.
Greeting them, saying please and thank you, responding with courtesy,
• Obeying parents and teachers, and treating them with
• Not mocking others, not ignoring people, not talking trash
• Knowing how to listen to others. Not talking
over them or waiting for them to hurry up and
finish so that I can say my piece.
• Reaching out
to help others when I see that they need a
• Knowing how to give in, not needing to get
my way all the time.
• Knowing how to work in
a team, supporting others’ ideas and building off of their
• Knowing how to wait my turn without having to
barge to the front and be first.
• In sports and
in games, having the self-control to respect the rules and
play fair. Not throwing a tantrum if the referee marks
• Taking care of my belongings—and those of others.
• Not borrowing without asking, even from a sibling.
TV shows, movies, videos, or music that could hurt my
• Leaving a place in better condition than when I
found it. Not leaving a trail of messes behind me.
• Respecting the intimacy and the feelings of others. Not prying
into what is not my business, and not revealing personal
information that a friend may have confided in me.
joyful, open, generous, and kind to others. Not making others
pay for my bad moods, and not weighing others down
with a sour face or a bad attitude.
WHAT MAKES IT
DIFFICULT TO LIVE THIS VIRTUE?
• Parents who are afraid to demand
respect from their children, or who passively allow their kids
to talk back, disobey, and show attitude. The lack of
a strong father figure can also make it more difficult
for children to learn attitudes of respect.
• Peer groups in
which some kids have an attitude of disrespect, and whose
example affects the entire group of friends.
• A materialistic
society can lead us to value people for what they
have. Advertisements and media can reinforce this idea that if
you have the latest, biggest, and most expensive things, you
are worth more.
• Movies, music, and TV programs that objectify
women and portray superficial relationships based on sex or appearances.
• A culture in which people do not have a clear
understanding of the value of the soul.
HOW TO PROMOTE
RESPECT AND DIGNITY AT HOME
• As a parent, give a daily
example of kind and respectful dealings with all people. When
it is necessary to correct your children, never lose your
self-control. When parents fly off the handle and can’t control
their emotions, children lose respect for their decisions. Parents must
always be rational and reasonable, especially in disciplinary matters.
well of others, and teach kids how to respect a
person even if he is mistaken in his ideas. Along
the same lines, show your children by your example that
confidential information about other people is not discussed.
• Encourage participation
in activities involving teamwork so that the kids can learn
to listen to others, support others’ ideas, work together, and
conquer their selfishness for a common good.
• Immediately cut short
any mockery, judgments, gossip, or attitudes of superiority in your
• Involve your children in acts of service –
and participate with them in some service activities—so that they
learn how to see others with eyes of compassion and
• Pray with your children, offering up prayers especially for
those who most need spiritual and material help. Through prayer,
teach your children that the defects, needs, and poverty of
others are not to be mocked –they are to be
• Be vigilant over what your kids are watching, listening
to, reading. If they encounter a movie or a show
with unsavory elements, help them to develop a critical eye
and a capacity to judge what goes against the dignity
of the characters (and their own dignity).
“Whoever wants to become
great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants
to be first must be slave of all. For even
the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many." (Mk 10:43-45)