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    The Value of Kindness

         Life in the United States continues to get busier and busier. We get up before Jesus pulls the sun up, we gulp our coffee while driving to work, attempt to wake up our brains, and grab more coffee as we start our day in our respective jobs. We run errands at lunch, slam a burger and fries, and go back to our desks to finish the day. We fight traffic at 5pm, pick up our kids, and keep our schedule going with soccer practice, piano lessons, homework; somewhere in there we feed our people. We put the kids to bed, stay up too late in an attempt to get some “me” time, and do it all over the next day.

         Other countries don’t do it like this. Other places around the world understand the importance of slowing down, taking a deep breath, prioritizing time for ourselves and our families, and modeling these ideas to our kids. The United States is so focused on “keeping up with the Jones’s” and making money and spending money and having the very best STUFF, and the things that actually matter fall by the wayside. We have forgotten our sense of community, and how to treat others.  This is displayed anytime we simply go to the grocery or witness a road rage fight on the interstate. Compassion, understanding, and tolerance have left the building.

         I say all this to bring one fact to light. We are forgetting to teach our kids how to be kind to one another. I am going to be very blunt in this space. I’m frustrated. If you aren’t frustrated, maybe you are part of the problem. How do our kids treat others? Do we even know? Do we hear about it? Do we ask questions? We are so busy today, tomorrow, and forever, and we don’t even have time to think about it, until it’s our kid being treated poorly. Then suddenly, mama bear cares about feelings and the treatment of others.

         Taking one look at social media shows us how kids are treating one another. The lack of care for others’ well-being is appalling. I know, I know- kids will be kids, and bullying is a tale as old as time. I would argue it is a growing abhorrent problem that is only intensified by the protection of social media. I would argue that kids are getting meaner and facing no consequences for it. I would argue that kids seem to think they can say whatever they want to whoever they want and find power in it.  And they are mostly right- because no one really stops them. We often tell our kids who are bullied, “just ignore them, they will go away.” This is fake news. And shame on us, me included, for taking this easy way out. Our kids cannot just ignore it. It’s changing who they are and how they see themselves.

         We as parents must take an active stance in this area. We have a responsibility to model better behavior and stop our kids in their tracks if we see them tearing others down. We have a responsibility to get all up in their business, follow their social media pages if they are allowed to have them, and call them out when they are out of line. It’s not the school’s job to raise our kids and show them right from wrong, it’s ours. It’s the school’s job to enforce these ideals when our kids are in their care, not teach it.

         Why am I so worked up today over this? Because I see what kids are doing to one another. I see where it comes from as well, which is insecurity and lack of empathy. I see us in this country hustling and bustling in an effort to control things way less important than teaching our kids to be kind. I see our days passing before our eyes so fast and our kids growing up in a flash, and certain morals and values being left in the dust. I see high school girls treating those they call their friends like garbage in order to feel in control, I see high school boys ripping each other on their appearances or athleticism to feel better about their themselves, and I see middle schoolers destroying each other’s confidence in search of their own.  I see mean girls, bullies, and a lack of innate kindness. We could deep dive into why kids feel the need to annihilate others to feel better about themselves, but that’s a much longer discussion. I simply urge all of us to pay attention to who our kids are becoming.  Stop the hustle and bustle each day for 30 minutes to spend quality time talking to our 5-year-old, 8-year-old, or 18-year-old about who they want to be and what kind of character they want to exude. Ask them how school went today, and dive deep into their interactions and their feelings around their day.  Stop worrying about what your neighbor has that you don’t and worry more about how you treat your neighbor. Let’s just freaking be nice and teach our kids to just freaking be nice.  It really is that simple. Let’s observe what we are teaching our kids to value, and what really matters. Let’s remember the value of kindness, and let’s just be better.