Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Want a better world? Raise better kids!

Last week, a friend of mine posed the (obviously rhetorical, but she put it out there anyway) question, "Can someone tell me why rude children have rude parents?"  My response was, "Rude children grow up and become rude parents, who then raise more rude children.  Its a cycle."

I was being rather tongue-in-cheek with my response, but I stand by what I said.  Kind people raise kind children.  Rude people raise rude children.  Self-centered people raise self-centered children.  And so on and so forth.

I have been marinating on this idea a lot this week, and then my son pulled out his jiu jitsu (optional) homework.  One question on it was, "Name five things we can focus more on to be better people."  We chatted about it a little bit, but ultimately my son came up with his own ideas.

* Working hard
* Kindness
* Respect
* Listening to others
* Sticking up for what's right

Those are the things he chose.  And I am proud.  My son "gets it."  And not just in theory, in practice, too.

I will never claim to be a perfect parent - far from it.  But I have made it my mission as a mother to raise people who will - even if only in some small, unseen way - change the world for better.  People who will live to spread love, acceptance, tolerance, kindness, peace, and goodness.  People who will live by example, and not just say empty words to make themselves look good on paper.  People who will live to be "good people" no matter who or what they are faced with.

My son, as I have blogged about a few times before, doesn't have the easiest time with being accepted by his peers.  And, like all people, there are kids in his class and/or social activities that he isn't a huge fan of.  That's life.  We don't have to like everyone, and I think that's normal.  We don't have to accept everyone or what they do.  But I have made it my mission to, anytime any of my kids complain about what someone else does, remind my kids that they don't have to like or agree with everyone, but they always have to treat others with utmost kindness and respect.  I don't do this to make my kids doormats or force them into martyrdom.  I do it because I want my kids to grow up to be good people; good employees, good bosses, good friends, good spouses, good parents, good grandparents, good neighbors, good citizens of this earth.


I just wish more parents "got it."  That's not to say I don't know a lot of parents who do "get it."  I am blessed in that the vast majority of people I associate with closely do.

But enough people in this world don't, and they are raising kids that don't.

So let me ask you something serious.  What kind of world do you want?  Think as long and hard as you need to before you answer that.

Do you want a kind world?  Then teach your children to be kind.  
Teach them about mercy and grace.  Not sometimes, not when someone is kind to them first, always.

Do you want a peaceful world?  Then teach your children the value of peace.  Teach them how to turn the other cheek.  Teach them to solve problems peacefully, and without insults and throwing punches.

Do you want a world with respect for all people?  Then t
each them to see and treat everyone the same.  Teach them not to judge other people based on their body type, their disability, their personality quirks, their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, how much money they may or may not have, their religion/religious customs, their accent, the things they may or may not own....or anything else, for that matter.

Or do you want the alternative?

Do you want a world of greed?  Then continue teaching your children that money and "stuff" is life's ultimate achievement.  Continue teaching them that it doesn't matter who they hurt, as long as they come out top dog.  Keep teaching them that being cut-throat is just part of the game.

Do you want a world of hatred?  Then continue teaching your children that anyone different than them is "below" them and should be treated as such.  Continue teaching them that its okay to make fun of and judge other people.

Do you want a world full of rude people?  Then continue teaching your children that what they say doesn't matter.  Continue teaching them that their wants and needs are more important than everyone else's.  Keep teaching them that patience is a bygone virtue.

Wait....hold the phone....  What?  You aren't teaching your kids these things?

Yes, you are.

Listen....  Every time you don't teach your kids what is right, you are reinforcing what is wrong.

Every time you make fun of someone who is obese, you teach your child to do the same.  Every time you allow your kids to say mean things about their classmates, you allow it to continue.  Every time you make a negative comment about someone else's lifestyle, you are teaching your child that living like that is not okay.  That being like that isn't okay.

I know its a hard battle.  I have 3 kids of my own.  Trust me.....I know.  But it is possible.  All it takes is conscious effort.  It takes a choice every day, in every moment with your children, to influence them to be better people.  They may be young, small, and not very influential now, but they will be "somebody" someday.  Someday, they will be someone's employee, someone's boss, someone's friend, someone's spouse, someone's parent, someone's grandparent, someone's neighbor....and an influential citizen of this earth.  Do you want your child, as an adult, to be someone who influences the world with kindness, peace, and respect?  Or the alternative?

Its a simple choice, to raise caring human beings who will make a better world, but you have to be willing to do the work.  Right now.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Next year.  In ten years.  Every single moment of every single day!  You chose to have this child, and you choose who they will become.  So ask yourself who you want them to become, and what kind of world you want to live in.  But please, choose wisely.


Joyful_Momma said...
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Joyful_Momma said...