On Raising Good People

I made the decision a few years ago to stop blogging about my kids. While it was awesome blog fodder, I became more conscientious of sharing too much about them with the world, both for the sake of their privacy, but also safety. While I may share a story here and there, they are few and far between.

My decision was also because I frankly have no idea what I’m doing. I have days when I feel like I’m killing it and days when I feel like I’m an utter failure. Luckily most days I figure it I’m worrying about being a good mom, I’m probably doing just fine. I’m not an expert and I won’t really know if I’ve screwed up the kids for years to come. Today I’m just sharing a snippet because I think that compassion and empathy are lacking a bit lately.

Enough rambling and back to the point of this post, trying to raise good little humans. Behind the scenes at our house, we’ve had so much going on. The kids are growing and developing into quite their own little people. They have very different temperaments and personalities. I can see it in everything from how they wake up in the morning to how to play with each other and respond to trying situations, like sharing or having a kid take something away. What they do share, is love. A deep, unrelenting love, for each other and our family. They are quick with a hug or kiss and tell each other, and us, I love you at least 20 times/day. It brings me so much joy.

While it’s seems fairly easy to show love, caring and compassion to your family members, it’s not as easy to help kids understand how to show this to others. How to show them what it means to be empathetic and compassionate. That is something Josh and I are working on and little by little I’m seeing evidence of them grasping it. For example, last week Ella had her 100th day of school. She proudly brought home a paper entitled “If I had $100, I would…” Her answer, she’d by stuff for kids who were poor. While maybe the wording wasn’t ideal, her heart, her big heart was in the right place. I was floored (and so proud!) that at five years old, given the opportunity to say what she would do with $100, she chose to do something for others. Others that are less fortunate than herself.

Anderson is still young to be grasping empathy and compassion, but he’s starting to get it. He can point out emotions and often when we read books, he will say they feel sad or lonely. When I ask him what he thinks could be done to help them feel better, he is full of suggestions from giving them a hug, to helping them find a new toy or friend. When one of us is feeling down, he wants to help make it better. I said the other day how lucky they were to have so many toys to play with and a nice house to live in, and he said yes, because not everyone gets the same as we do.

In a world of mine and theirs, us vs. them, the haves and the have-nots, I just want my kids to be good people. I want them to care for each other, care for others. I want them to treat everyone with respect, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship, political affiliation, etc. We are all different and that is what makes us beautiful and valuable. I want them to be generous with their time, money and give to those that need a helping hand when they can. You never know when you may be the one who needs help.

Here a few a things we’re doing to try to help them learn this:

  1. Read books, lots of books. We’re reading everything from the story of Ruby Bridges to books on how to be identify different emotions, and everything in between. If you’re lost for ideas, there are tons of websites out there with recommendations for any value you’re trying to teach.
  2. Volunteer. We’ve packed food at Feed My Starving Children, cleaned out toys to take to Goodwill, bought groceries for families in need, and of course, they see what we’re doing for Support the Girls.
  3. Talk about what it means to be kind, generous, compassionate and empathetic. Any situation can be a learning experience from Ella having trouble with a kid at school to why there is a person holding a sign asking for money by the exit ramp.

Now, I am not claiming to be an expert and my kids definitely have a naughty streak. They still fight with each other and talk back from time to time. I’m also far from a perfect parent, is their such a thing? Overall, I think my kids are pretty awesome and we just want to do what we can not to raise kids that think because it’s not happening to them, that it’s not happening at all.

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