What can we reason but from what we know? -Alexander Pope

Son Up to Son Down

We parents have big hopes and dreams for our children. As soon as they start figuring out that life exists beyond the four walls of their home, they start dreaming of what their future selves will become. Popular in our house are a farmer, a basketball player, a firefighter and of course, Spiderman.

Like all parents, I want what's best for my kids. I daydream of my kids' future careers: a doctor, a farmer, a scientist, an investor, a teacher. I want them to be successful and strive for their dreams (except for Spiderman, but I'm not sure how to break that to them). Regardless of their career paths, there is one thing I want them to be more than anything else. I want them to be kind.

Working in education, I have had the opportunity to work with students of all different ages, abilities and backgrounds. I have seen students achieve things they thought were insurmountable, but on the flip side have found them crying in a bathroom stall when the school day is just too much. I also encounter adults who are struggling and have been a struggling adult myself.

We can preach kindness to our kids until we're blue in the face, but as adults we have to show them how to be kind, too. I fall short of this kindness standard regularly. I am impatient and I probably yell more than I should. I don't keep in touch with friends as much as I'd like and when I get stressed out ... fasten your seatbelts. Little eyes are always watching and as their parent it is my responsibility to show them how to be respectful, inclusive and kind.

Now that my oldest has entered kindergarten, I have become hyper focused on his achievements in school. When he comes home from school I drill him with questions like "How did you do on your spelling test?" "Do you have homework?" "Did you get any AR points this week?" But really, I don't care nearly as much about this stuff as I do about whether he is kind to others. What I should start asking him is "Who were you kind to today?"

Of course, I want my kids to do well in school and academic achievement is important to our family. But does any of that really matter if my kid isn't kind? I care more about raising good-hearted human beings even if that means their just meh at all that other stuff. I want my boys to hold the door for others, compliment their friends and ask the lonely kid to play. Kids are naturally kind, it's innate. We adults have to be the ones to show them that their ability to spread kindness is more powerful than their ability to ace the science test or score the winning touchdown.


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