A few months ago, I read a couple of articles (like this article, or this study here) about raising your children with a focus on being kind.

It really resonated with me for a lot of reasons. But the biggest reason is that I feel like the world needs a whole lot more kindness and compassion than it does most everything else.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world’s kindest person, so focusing on kindness in my parenting has been one of those eye-opening experiences, where I am realizing, Oh, hey, if I’m trying to teach O to be kind to others, I probably shouldn’t be yelling at the dog right now, should I?

It’s been really good for me, then, too.

But with parenting, it’s hard to really know if something you’re teaching your kid will actually stick. It’s a little like a leap of faith. And with O, we didn’t see a huge amount of kindness coming from him at home. He still gets annoyed with the dog (the poor dog, really, he has a bad rap. He’s still kind of a puppy, and enthusiastic and’ Which drives us all bonkers, apparently!) and he bosses around his cousins and gets mad at Jeff and I. And when we tell him, Be kind! he does the 6 year old equivalent of a teenager’s eye roll and we hear, I KNOW!

So when his teacher said, And he’s so KIND! during our parent-teacher conference, Jeff and I kind of looked at one another, a bit gobsmacked.

Wait, he’s actually LISTENING to us?

Crazy talk, right there.

I got to see his kindness first hand, though, yesterday.

A close relative of Jeff’s family died suddenly two days ago. And the next morning when he got up, I told Owen about it, partly because I wanted him to understand that his dad was sad, and partly because I needed him to know that our weekend plans would change because we’d have to get someone to watch him so we could go to the visitation and funeral.

We talked a little about it. He asked some questions. And then he said, kind of out of the blue: Wait a minute, Mom. I want to get dressed.

Odd – we usually have to drag him into clothing – if the child could wear pajamas to school, he would, always. But when he came down, fully dressed, he told me that he wanted to go to the grocery store, so we could buy Dad some things to make him happy.

I think, he announced, Swedish Fish and Twisters (aka: twizzlers, O calls them Twisters, which I find impossibly adorable) might help cheer him up.

How could I say no? It was a good idea.

So we went to the grocery store, got a package of Swedish Fish and Twizzlers, came home, and found the happiest bag, Mom! Look, it’s yellow! to put them in. We decorated the bag with a smiley face on each side, and then my kid went upstairs and got one of the extra Bear loveys he sleeps with every night.

This lovey’s name was Happy Bear*. O put Happy Bear into the bag, looked it over, and pronounced it PERFECT. I think it’s really going to cheer Dad up. Because now dad could just hug Happy Bear when he felt sad, and because Happy Bear was a really good listener, it would make Dad feel better.

So stinking sweet.

It made my heart happy to watch MY kid come up with ideas to help his dad feel better. And I said a little prayer, too.

May he always feel empathy and compassion for others who are suffering.


*Happy Bear, if you want to know, is Bear’s grandfather. Bear is Owen’s favorite lovey, and he has super powers beyond any superhero I’ve ever met.



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4 Responses to Kindness.

  1. Mel says:

    That made my throat ache a little reading it. Like totally psyched to remember his birth and then to see what a cool, KIND kid he has become. 🙂

  2. Deborah says:

    That is so sweet! I would be thrilled if I was sad and somebody bought me Swedish Fish.

    And I’m sure Owen learns kindness, not just from you deliberately teaching him, but from you being kind to him.

  3. Turia says:

    That is a wonderful story. I agree with Mel- it is so neat to “see” him growing up. I still remember the baby who would.not.sleep.

  4. Justine says:

    This makes my throat catch. And makes me feel sheepish, knowing what I said to MY kid tonight about forgetting his homework at school (again) … maybe I need to remember to model kindness in places where he can see it. Because that’s really how they learn, right?

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