It’s 4:09 p.m. Kids home from school. Homework rush. Flashcards. Twenty minutes of reading. What’s for dinner? Can we do pizza again?
But today is different. My mind is in rewind—playing like a skipping DVD words I heard this afternoon:
“You can’t play with us.”
“My team is better than yours.”
“That play thing is dumb.”
“Mom, someone is leaving so-and-so out at school.”
My mind is stuck on why kids do this to each other? Sure we teach them to run the fastest, kick the hardest, land the back handspring. We teach them to read, write, memorize facts. But have I done enough to teach my children to be kind?
We have a zero-tolerance policy in my house when it comes to kindness to each other. I often hear myself say, “You can have boundaries, but you need to be kind.” But have I taught them that the same rules apply on the playground, in a friend’s home, at school, and even in the forever-long checkout line?
Do they see my face when I am running late and the car in front of me is going 10 mph slower than I would like them to? Do they hear my words when someone has crossed my boundaries and it’s been a long day? Do they notice how I react when things don’t go my way?
“More is caught than taught,” said Dave Ramsey’s daughter, Rachel Cruze. If more is caught than taught, then maybe teaching kindness is not the answer to the world’s problems of bullying, suicide, war, and intolerance.
Maybe bullies are created not because they were not taught to be kind, but maybe because they did not catch enough kindness. Did they catch kindness at home? From peers? From teachers? Or are they reflecting how they have been treated for years?
As for me, I don’t want it to be too late to be kind. So I invite you to join with me in becoming a little more patient. Wait at least ten seconds before you slam on the horn; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all; and let those who are difficult catch kindness from you.
I have to do better or all of my “teaching” will look as black as the pot on my kitchen stove that should be cooking dinner right now. Maybe tonight is a pizza night after all. I can practice kindness if they don’t get my order right, knowing four sets of eyes are watching me.
QUESTION: How is kindness both “caught” and taught in your home?
CHALLENGE: The next time you are tempted to judge harshly or lose your cool, choose kindness instead.