Monday, March 15, 2010
Intentional Parenting – Part 7; Intentional Kindness
Maybe I was a bully, but I remember fighting with my sisters a lot as a kid. In fact, I remember feeling sick to my stomach when my parents would go out, leaving us home alone, because I knew the evening would end badly. Call me the sensitive middle child, but the fighting really bothered me.
I wouldn’t say I became “friends” with my sisters until I reached adulthood which, I know, is the way it is with many siblings. But I think part of the reason for that is because we just plain weren’t nice to each other when we were kids. (Feel free to chime in here anytime, girls.) It could have been so much better.
Now, I have to tell you that I feel like the world’s biggest hypocrite writing a post about kindness. I mean, my kids don’t exactly thwack each other on the head calling each other “Punk” on a regular basis, but they do have their moments. I sure don’t want you to think I’m raising perfect kids here. There is some bickering going on in this house—it’s inevitable with three teenagers hanging around.
And I certainly forget to act with kindness when my child has lost an important paper or she didn’t leave enough time to walk to school in the morning or when they interrupt my writing time. No, sometimes kindness goes out the window with patience and I’m left without two of the most basic tools I need to raise my kids. So frustrating.
The point of this blog series, though, is to think intentionally about things we do as parents—to be proactive about the behaviors we’d like to instill in our kids so that we don’t have to react later. And one of the behaviors I really want my kids to show is kindness to one another.
It may be one that we’re working on, but it’s a goal, and I think it’s a good one.
Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Do I need another reason?
Well, I do have another reason--the world is watching. When your kids have friends over, and those friends see your child interacting with her siblings, it says something about what you believe and who you are as a family. It shows what you value.
Do you value peace in your home? Then expect kindness.
Do you value self-sacrifice over selfishness? Then demand kindness.
Do you value forgiveness? Then practice kindness.
Maggie had a friend over one day, and after her friend left she told me that her friend was so surprised by the way Maggie’s older sister had treated her. She said, “Your sister is so nice to you. All my sister ever does is tell me to go away.”
Remember that old song, “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love”? That’s the idea here. The world is watching our families, checking us out to see if there is anything different about us. Believe me, if your kids are kind to one another the difference will show. Big time.
What does this look like?
Oh boy, on some days I honestly couldn’t tell you what kindness looks like. But on those good days, the days when our family seems to be clicking on all cylinders, the days when everything seems right with the world and within these four walls . . . on those days it looks like this:
“How was your day?”
“Can I help you with that?”
“Come on in.” (That’s me, practicing kindness when I’m sitting in my writing chair and someone interrupts me.)
“I love you.” (Yes, my girls say that to each other. Without my prompting anymore, either!)
“I forgive you.”
Kindness melts your heart. Kindness breaks down walls. Kindness heals wounds.
And there just isn’t enough of it in this world, so why not start now by intentionally making your home a haven of kindness for your kids?
I’d love to hear about how you instill kindness in your home. Leave me a comment about that. Pretty please?