Earlier this month my friend and fellow blogger, Kate, wrote about kindness in her family. Really, how they struggle with kindness on a daily basis. You can read her full blog post here. She’s much more eloquent with words than I am and has a real gift for articulating her thoughts in writing. Funny…. the day after I read Kate’s blog on kindness, we had the kind of day that made it completely evident that we had a kindness issue in our home too! We have a bossy boy, a crazy loud toddler, a baby (no explanation needed) ans a pre-tween (also, no explanation needed). What I realized though, that day, was that the biggest culprit, the one it all starts with, is me!
Kate made an excellent point in her blog. That if the mom wakes up in the morning acting with kindness, usually everyone else will follow suit. I had not been starting the morning this way. Using the baby and lack of sleep as my personal excuse, I was allowing myself to be grumpy, bossy and negative. If my boys didn’t hop to it right away, and get their morning chores done, I responded in anger instead of kindly directing them to do the right thing. To clarify, I don’t believe in asking my children to do things. I am the parent and it is my job to teach them how to navigate life. This happens by giving clear instruction and guidance, not by asking them what they want to do. Kindness is not letting my kids do what they want, it’s treating them with respect and love while teaching and leading by example. There’s a big difference between go make your bed now!! and please go make your bed. If I want my children to be kind, I need to model kindness, all the time.
I think kindness is a habit. Since it’s human nature (sinful human nature) to give into selfishness, it takes work to practice kindness. At least it takes work for the average person. It was definitely going to take work for my family, so I knew I needed a plan. Setting a good example is a good start. Reminding my boys to be kind to each other when I hear rudeness is another thing I could do. Sometimes, I’ll have them re-do a conversation with each other to teach them that there’s another way to communicate. Apologies are good too, but I needed more! A practical way to help all of us remember daily, to practice kindness. I decided that the answer (I know how obvious this is… I don’t know why it wasn’t my first thought) was the Bible!
Every day, for at least a month, all three of us, my two older boys and myself would look for and write down a proverb. Or really any Bible verse that makes us think about kindness, selflessness, respect, putting others first, you get the idea. We write them down and post them on the bulletin board that hangs in our dining room. And, of course they have to be pretty because they’re on display. That’s just another way to express kindness though, right!? Kindness or respect to God by taking extra time to make His word pretty. Kindness to me by keeping my home the way I like it. Kindness to my boys by teaching them to take their time and give special attention to a deserving task. (Okay, that last one may be a stretch!) Every time one of us needs an extra reminder to be kind, we can be gently reminded to go read the board. After a month it will be full of wonderful reminders! And bonus! It’s a great Bible study too!!
So… I came up with this idea a couple of weeks ago. Guess how many verses we have on our board? Three! The beauty of our loving God, is that He never stops loving us, He always forgives and it’s never too late to try again. He’s really the epitome of kindness! Today, we’re starting over and trying again. Kindness is one of the most important things I can teach my kids. Being kind, putting others first, responding in love is all more important to me than any academic subject. So, even though I failed to follow through on this idea the first time, I know it’s a worthwhile cause and I’m going to give it another try. Because, if I haven’t taught my kids kindness, anything else they learn won’t be worth much at all.