It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless. – L.R. Knost
Random Acts of Kindness day is February 17, 2022. When I think about kindness, I think about intentionally treating others with respect, generosity and consideration. Raising children in a heartless world is anything but easy. Kindness goes a long way. As a mother, of course I want my children to be kind to others and to be thoughtful to their classmates, but I cannot expect it to just happen.
So where do we begin?
For me, it starts at home. How can I expect my children to show kindness to others if their foundation is lacking kindness? How can I encourage them to treat others nicely, if I am not demonstrating kindness to them and those around us? We must walk the walk and talk the talk. It goes without saying, some days are harder than others.
Like in this very moment for example: I thought I had escaped to the kitchen, but my three-year-old daughter was not far behind, requesting pears. She then threw the pieces of pears on the table because she changed her mind; she no longer likes pears and wants something else. I explained that she is wasting food and she needs to eat what she first picked out before she can have another snack. She is now clinging to my leg and crying. I wish I could say this is the first time this happened today. At times it is easy to get frustrated in moments like these. When I react instead of responding, I apologize to my children and explain how it was not okay for me to react like so. At this very moment, I have two options. I could hastily react to her behavior or I could take a deep breath, count to ten and respond with a solution. This is just one small example of how kindness can be shown at home. By calmly responding to her, she will in return calm down. Had I reacted to the melt down, it would have only caused her to become more upset and not helped the situation. This is true for others too.
I continually tell my children that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond. When others around you are cruel, you do not have to respond in a similar manner, you can still be kind. Oftentimes in fact, it’s those unkind people who need kindness the most.
In a world immersed in cancel-culture, can we rise above the norm and strive for continued kindness? Let’s intentionally demonstrate acts of kindness throughout the day and in front of our children to raise a generation that is no stranger to compassion and seeks opportunities to show kindness to others. Whether it is showing kindness to your neighbor by offering to help with a need, kindness to the earth by not littering or instead by picking up trash, kindness to a stranger who maybe needs a smile or could go in front of you in a grocery store line or even kindness to yourself. No act of kindness is too small.
I think about the time a friend unexpectedly sent me some money for coffee, making my day. Then there was the time I pulled up to the first window of a drive-through and was told someone a couple of cars ahead of me had paid for my meal. Maybe it was the exhausted woman (me) in the minivan looking like I needed a pick-me-up, maybe they could hear all the kids screaming over my voice as I attempted to place our order or perhaps it was my rocking minivan, as nobody ever sits still. While I cannot remember the day or what we had going on, I will never forget how that random act of kindness made me feel. It is just as rewarding to act out kindness to others.