An Open Letter to Parents...Kindness Counts

As I sat in the waiting room at the orthodontist this morning, I found myself witnessing an all too familiar scene. A young girl was happily chatting to herself about the new toothbrush and bag of goodies she received, yet each time she spoke, her older brother criticized and mocked her quite rudely. Meanwhile, their mother sat right between them, either oblivious or unconcerned.

Unfortunately, I see this kind of behavior from both children and adults so often, I almost become immune. Almost. I refuse to admit that rude, disrespectful, inconsiderate behavior is the new normal for our society today. I don't want it to be. I expect more from people, especially parents. Why parents? The fact is, as parents, we are charged with raising our children to be kind, empathetic, respectable members of society. Yet how can we do that when so many adults are modeling the exact opposite behavior in front of their own children?

This past summer on our family vacation, my children and husband witnessed a grown man literally berating a server over whether or not a jar of seasoning was crushed garlic or not. This man was outright bullying an employee in front of many people, adults and children alike. Another time, I stood next to an older man who belittled a chef because he did not add enough cheese to his omelette. Lastly, that same day, I watched as a mother asked her young child what she wanted to eat, only to chastise her for saying pizza when the mother wanted something else. She grabbed the little girl and ignored her confused face as she pulled her away.

My husband and I used each of these incidents as an opportunity to teach our children the importance of a simple human virtue: kindness. We try to instill in our children a sense of empathy and respect for others. We want them to see that other people are just as deserving of a kind word or smile as they are. And we expect them to treat them that way. It just doesn't magically happen that your children see others as deserving of a kind word or smile. As parents, we must teach them as well as model the appropriate behavior so as to instill a desire in them to do the same.

For example, just last night, my son and I were in the drive thru of our favorite fast food restaurant. Yes, we eat fast food. Too much, I'm sure. Anyway, we waited a long time for our food, and when the young girl at the window went to hand the box to us, the bottom fell out, and everything fell onto the floor. The poor girl froze in fear. My heart broke for her as her manager came over. It was clear the manager was looking to me to see how to proceed. I smiled and told the young girl that it was fine! Things like that happen to me all the time. I offered to pull ahead and wait. When she returned with our fresh food a few minutes later, she was almost in tears. I reassured her again that it was not a problem. And she was smiling before we left.

Another time, in the same drive thru...I told you we eat there too much...a young girl was short with me when I asked her a question. I smiled and said nothing. As we waited for our food, I remarked to my children that you never know what another person is going through at any given moment. Maybe she was having a bad day? Maybe she didn't feel good? Sure enough, when she returned, she was very apologetic and told me she was having a very hard day. I assured her I have those days too. And not to worry about it at all.

Both of these incidents were opportunities to teach not only my children but also the young women that kindness matters. I was able to demonstrate that feeling empathy and having respect for others is a necessary social skill in our world today. At least it should be. Before you begin to think I am Mary Poppins, Ma Ingalls and Mother of the Year all rolled in one, I assure you I am not always successful in modeling appropriate behavior. I am human after all. My children are not always perfectly behaved. They are human too. Yet we try. We respect. We talk kindly to others. We smile. We treat others as we want to be treated.

And you know what? Others notice. And appreciate it. More than once, people we meet remark that our family is kind and special. They say they don't meet people like our family everyday. Do I say this to boast? Not at all. I am way too paranoid for that. I say this as an affirmation that kindness matters. People notice. And they appreciate it. And they in turn may show others the same kindness. Wouldn't that be nice?

I sound preachy, I know. I am simply tired of unkind people. Am I a Pollyanna? A Holly Hobby? You bet. Do I wish the world were all rainbows and unicorns? Not at all. Do I want my children to grow up in a world filled with more kindness and less rudeness? You bet. So parents, let's put down the phones and laptops and television remotes and do what we are here to do...raise our children to know this one simple thing...kindness matters.



Edit: As I sit here in sadness watching the news, I humbly ask you join me in prayers and love for all affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas last evening.



29 comments:

  1. Such a great post, Billie Jo. Both of those girls at the drive-thru will remember your kindness forever.
    I needed this reminder today because my family can surely benefit from kinder speech around here, as well. We can all be so short with each other!! Ugh! The humanity!!
    I have to remember that I can preach kind behavior til the cows come home, but it's my actions that are speaking louder. Thanks for the reminder, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kindness DOES matter and I love this post. I was the little girl on the receiving end of a brother who belittled everything I said while growing up. I have always had a complex when speaking in a crowd, waiting for someone to laugh at me, because of this. He has apologized many times over since we have grown up, but the effect is still there. (and he sometimes still does it!!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Billie Jo~

    Well said dear friend, I could not agree with you more. Kindness is one of those traits that I have tried so hard to instill in my own children and grandchildren. I was a paralegal for many years, and I came in contact with so many rude, unforgiving, unkind, people on a daily basis, it was hard. Hard, because by nature, I am kind, most likely because that is what I was taught as a child. Remember the incident where the dog broke the screen on my door and came into my home and ate my zucchini bread?! I know it was horrible, but, when the lady left my house, and yes, she was rude, she turned and said, "Thank you for being so nice about all this, I'm so sorry." Like you, I'm not a saint, but I realized that stuff just happens sometimes. I could go on and on, but I won't, I'll just say, thank you, for being who you are, for raising responsible kids, who are kind and considerate to others, we need more parents like you in the world, Billie Jo.

    The shooting in, Las Vegas was such a tragedy, and way too close to home. I will join with you in praying for all those who were affected by such this despicable act of violence. The world needs a more kindness, compassion and love. This incident just leaves me heartsick.

    Hugs and Love,
    Barb

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such a wise and lovely post....

    As I have said before, your children are lucky, to have parents like you.

    Pity the children, of all those "lost in their own little worlds" parents. They produce people who berate servers, and worse.

    -sigh-

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love this post so much. I have been blessed time and time again through your beautiful posts, and today was no exception. <3

    ReplyDelete
  7. Another stimulating post, Billie Jo. You write from the heart. Kindness is important in all aspects of life. I have seen elderly people treated poorly by wait staff or cashiers and it breaks my heart and that should never happen either. Life would be so much better if everyone just decided to make one person a day happier. What a joy that would be.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post and such a good reminder.❤️

    ReplyDelete
  9. This post brought tears to my eyes. I was just talking to Justin the other day about how there is a lot of people who are just plain mean, and how God wants for us to spread kindness in this world. It makes me sad to see how it is almost cool to bully and be rude to those around us today. Hugs to you. Juli

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am with you, 100%. I find it even harder to advocate kindness when not even our politicians (including the President) are held to the same standards of kindness and empathy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Billie Jo for this sweet post and reminder that kindness counts and matters. I tell my girl nearly every day to try and be a bright spot in someone else's day as you never know what others may be going through. Joining you in prayer for Las Vegas.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kindness is so important. It is part of the true love of Christ. You are so right in that you don't know what another is going through and kindness although it does not always work at least gives you the moral high ground.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hear hear, such a good and uplifting post spoken from the heart of a Mother that cares about the world her children are growing up in. I do so wish I lived nearer I think we would be firm friends. Family is always uppermost in our minds and hearts and then there is always Disney, only 6 more weeks and we will be in Florida for 3 whole weeks I am more than excited.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am not perfect and I find myself getting upset over meals taking too long or the worst yet, other people driving! But I have always made it a habit to try and find something good out of a bad event. I have alway tried throughout my life to seek out a manager if possible to fave on someone's service to me. I started out working in the public and with the public in several different jobs in my life, I feel it is important to point out good behavior and at times, the bad.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Back in my teaching days, I remember walking into a friend's classroom before the 1st day of school. On the board she'd written: RULES... and under it was one rule. BE NICE. I've never forgotten that. It really is the best rule there is for a peaceful family/workplace/society.

    ReplyDelete
  16. So much truth here. I love it. Have you read Wonder? It's all about Choosing Kind and it's wonderful. (There's a movie coming out in November!) I hope I can do my best to be kind my whole life.

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's so true, you never know the kind of day people are having and you can never go wrong with being kind. Christ was the perfect example and yes we are all human but its good to be reminded.
    The Golden Rule is so simple yet so powerful, 'Treat others as you would like to be treated.'
    Have a good week Billie Jo

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is SO important. Wonderful post, mom. I learn so much from you!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a great post Billie Jo! And I am definitely praying with you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Couldn't agree with you more!!! Really one of the major reasons why I homeschool. I wanted to make sure my kids had a solid foundation based on vitrues like kindness, compassion, etc.. Unfortunately we live in a world were most people are in a hurry & consumed with themselves. I always get so sad when I go somewhere like a park and literally will see almost every parent with their face burried in their phone. Their children will say things like, "Mom, look at me!" Or "Can you push me on the swing?" And most times parents will say, "Not now, i'm busy!" Or "Stop being rude! Can't you see i'm doing something?!" Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some free time on my phone too! But there's a time and a place. I think parents need to interact & demonstrate healthy interaction with their children more. Btw... I have had that happen to me many times as well, where a person will be rude to me. The best is when an impatient person honks the horn at me! I always turn to them and will wave and smile!! Haha :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I couldn't agree with you more. I have seen similar such things and have been horrified. Kindness does matter.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love this post! I also try to teach my children that kindness matters. Hard these days.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I could not love this more my Friend. I totally agree and I work to show my kids I walk the walk and not just talk the talk. That kindness, generosity and love always wins. Rudeness, impolite behavior and downright mean nature will never get one far.

    Have a blessed week ahead MamaBear- you rock!! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  24. Billie Jo, what a sweet mama you are! Your kids are blessed!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes! Yes! Yes! Kindness certainly matters. A kind word, action or smile can go a long way.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Billie Jo, your words ring so true to me. So often I witness the same types of situations that you have described. I always think to myself "you never know what someone is going through to make them act that way". On the other side, I've seen people who are going through very difficult situations exhibit so much kindness it takes my breath away. It upsets me to encounter rude people. I see it everyday. John's school motto this year is "Choose Kind", from the book Wonder. I love that saying and try to lead by example. It really does matter. Well said, my friend! xo

    ReplyDelete
  27. I could have wrote this myself. Great words.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I didn't even get half way though and I had to stop because I couldn't see though the tears welling up in my eyes. I Know exactly what you mean and the tears are not only for our world, for those who turn their backs on God but especially for a baby girl who's name I do not know. I was in line at the dollar tree last night and witnessed an adorable baby girl she looked to be under two years old, her momma walked away to grab something and her little lip started to tremble as she was going to cry. and what seemed to be her Father ( a really big guy) Yelled SHUT UP! Stop that! Be Quiet. at the first yell the baby girl jumped as she was frightened -so was I and the cashier. because I was about to say something (as I've done to often before) but Stopped myself because I worry that if this is how he gets mad in public maybe he will be so upset at what I would of said that he will later take it out on her, so I held my tongue said a little prayer for baby girl and left. My hubby knew something was wrong and well I wont repeat what he called the man but It is so hard to witness these things and say nothing. I am getting better at holding my tongue but I have been know to I guess not set a good example when I lose it while witnessing bad parenting. We also use these things as examples with our children. I'm sorry I guess I needed to get that out because obviously I'm still thinking of her. Thank you for listening, and if it's not to much please include baby girl in your prayers. I don't know who she is but I know Ill never forget her.

    ReplyDelete
  29. What a beautiful, thoughtful, and truthful post, Billie! I'm sitting here nodding my head as I read it.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for saying hello!

I will answer any questions you may have through email, so if you would rather not do it that way, please let me know. I'll answer here. Just remember to check back for a reply!

Billie Jo