As we come closer to the end of the year, I keep circling back to the basics with my kids – especially when it comes to how we treat each other. I feel like I’ve repeated the Golden Rule to my kids about 20 times every single day. In the midst of all the challenges we face in our lives, remember to always be kind, and teach your kids to be kind.
We may not notice it much in the day to day – particularly when we are constantly breaking up squabbles or having to remind kids to treat their siblings the way they want to be treated – but those big life lessons do make it through and come out in their actions toward others when they aren’t with us. I got a thank you recently from another mom, telling me that my son had stood up for her son against a bully at school, and how much she appreciated it. When I asked my son about that, he shrugged it off, and said it wasn’t a big deal.
Friends, the littlest things – the smallest acts of kindness – can make a huge impact on someone else’s life. You never know what other people are dealing with. Above all else, be kind.
We have all lived through a lot the last two years. A global pandemic that seems to be endless, no matter how much all of us are ready for it to be over. Job and life challenges – which are also endless – we all know that life can be hard, kids are constantly demanding more from us, our life and job responsibilities can be overwhelming. Kristi has written a lot about taking smaller steps and not allowing the overwhelm to become the center of your attention – and she has some great ideas for that.
Many people around our country and the world have lost their jobs during the pandemic, for a variety of reasons. Others have worked in healthcare or law enforcement or other public service the whole time, and are completely burned out because of the strain of powering through. Farmers across the country were committing suicide at record rates last year because low commodity prices and high input prices meant they could not make their family/farm/business budget work.
These are real problems that we face. I am not trying to start a political discussion here about those problems, or suggest that I have all the answers, by any means. People are hurting, and we need to remember that we are all connected.
Sara wrote some time ago about her experiences growing up on a ranch in Montana (see When I was Your Age). She made a great point about teaching her kids about her experiences, and making sure that they appreciate their advantages today. I’ve talked a lot about that recently, both here on the blog and with my kids as we approach the holidays (Grateful and Blessed).
I don’t have all the answers. I did go back to work this year after basically being a stay at home mom for the last six years. My husband and I are gainfully employed, and we are able to save for later while still paying for all the things in the here and now. We are blessed. And we are constantly trying to teach our kids about Thankfulness and being aware of anyone less fortunate.
No matter what your situation, be kind to others. Reach out and help your neighbor. Make dinner for a friend who is sick. Use your network to connect people who might be looking for a job with companies looking to hire.
The Golden Rule is called that because it is the number one thing to teach our kids from a young age – and the best rule to follow for all of us. Treat others the way that you want to be treated.
I can be the first person to respond in a snotty way in group conversation – some would say bitchy – and I am certainly not my best self all of the time. I tend to be pretty no-nonsense. My family probably gets the brunt of that side of me, since they are the ones who are with me at the end of a long day, when I am exhausted. Or pretty much any time when my mouth gets ahead of my brain and I have no filter. I need to be better about acting kindly at home.
My kids have been fighting, constantly (hence my repetition of the Golden Rule). Feelings get hurt, feathers get ruffled, and everyone has to take a step back and remember that while home is the safe space for all of us to let go of our public selves, we still have to be kind to one another here.
Also, I don’t know how many times I’ve threatened to take away devices, TV time, etc. The ramp up to Christmas is always a challenge (see Christmas Parenting). This year, that seems even more challenging than ever! Now is the best time to reinforce the message to our kids that kindness is the best way to show that we care for everyone around us.
One of my friends texted me early yesterday morning, telling me that she was thinking of me, and that she loves that I have re-started my career and seem to have it all together. I told her that I feel like a hot mess most of the time – and that is completely the truth.
Every single one of us has our hot mess moments (years?). We have all lived through the incredible challenges of the pandemic and all that came with it – and it is not over yet. So as we all try to go forward into 2022, do your best to be kind to everyone you meet (did a Christmas song just run through your head?). You never know when a small act of kindness will change someone else’s life.
Be kind. Teach your kids to be kind. They do pick up on the little things, and the little things matter.