The Power of Kindness

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I’m not sure where to start with this. I suppose my childhood would be a good place. Because my mother was from the south, “yes ma’am” and “sir” were a must. If my mother called for us, we had to come front and center with, ”Ma’am”? Respect was essential and mandatory and we all knew it. There was no hollering back, “what”? When I had my own children I remember having a conversation with my maternal grandmother and explaining to her that I lived in California and I wouldn’t be having my children do that. She raised one eyebrow at me (a true sign of disapproval) but I was determined. What I did implement was respect, kindness and manners.  Maybe it stems from a visceral place with me, but if my children ever “sassed” me, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I would (and still) nip it in the bud pronto!

Over the years I would witness my friends kids be “hateful” (these are all my granny Fox’s terms) to each other, saying “I hate you” to their parents or siblings. Just being nasty to each other and bickering while the parents did nothing to stop it. I would stand back and quietly think you are doing NO ONE any favors and it will only get uglier the older the children got. To me that is not expressing themselves, it’s just ugly. 

I have a real problem dealing with kids being nasty to one another. When my children were young, if they weren’t getting along, I would send them off to separate places and tell them when they could be kind to each other they could come back together. Otherwise they could stay in their rooms by themselves. My husband and I are not yellers or arguers and we treat each other and our children with kindness and respect. We have set an example by being what we expect them to be! We also showered them with love, affection and most importantly probably, our attention!  It has certainly paid off. My kids are extremely close to each other and us. I have worked hard to not be judgmental and to listen to them…really listen. We go to whatever they are involved in, we are there for them and they know it. We have earned their confiding in us and their wanting to spend time with us. Now two of them are away but they call endlessly to each other and to us. They confide in each other and advise each other, which is heartwarming as their mother!

I recently had dinner with a couple about my age. They have 4 kids between the ages of 15-23. They are all still living at home and the mother told me it is total chaos. They don’t even take them out to dinner because they endlessly fight with each other. They are disrespectful to the parents and their life is very stressful. I thought ‘I just couldn’t live that way’.

If nothing else, I would really stress to teach your children to be respectful of each other and others. As the old saying goes, if you have nothing nice to say, say NOTHING. Lastly I will say as they grow up, how we, as parents respond to something is all we can truly control. Blaming gets us nowhere. If we all check how we respond, the atmosphere can change. Our children are watching what we say and do (even when we think they aren’t) and that is where they are learning from.

It’s never too late to instill these lessons. If you find that what you are currently doing is not working, try something different, a different approach. Be consistent and they will pick up on it. It may be difficult at first but the payoff in the end is well worth it.