Today’s world is not kind. The “leaders” are not kind to other leaders. The people that are praised as leaders have often advanced by being unkind and self-serving. Rude drivers and rude neighbors fill our communities. People still exclude others because of race and religion. Not everyone is rude, so please don’t think I’m a total pessimist. But one of my priorities as a mother in the world in this generation is to teach my children kindness and compassion.
Sometimes this feels difficult, and I really believe that some difficulties can be blamed on the unique personalities of our young children. Here’s an example. In my last two pregnancies, I had horrible morning sickness. I also had a child between 3.5 and 4.5 during both of these pregnancies.
- One of my children during one of those pregnancies would say, “I’m sorry, Mommy! I hope you feel better soon!”
- Another my children during a different pregnancy (same age) would say, “Mommy! Get back in here! Stop being sick! I need more oatmeal!”
I did not teach my children differently, but they have their own personalities. For one of my children, I see compassion and kindness as a personality trait. For my other child, I see other strengths. But being compassionate and having empathy for others is not one of them.
How can I help my children see the world around them with more empathy, compassion, and kindness?
I don’t believe there is a simple fix for something this important. That said, teaching kindness and compassion must start with me. I must be an example of kindness and compassion. Similarly, as a parent, I help by teaching kids to notice and use their words to communicate what we see. Finally, I must be patient with them as I teach them principle upon principle. We can’t learn anything all at once, and developing kindness is a life-mission for all of us.