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Challenge: Raising Kind Kids

Lead by Example

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I find myself saying this to people over and over. As the Co Founder of a family centered technology company, a Mom of a 19 year old and a stepmom to my 9 year old, my daily grind keeps me quite busy and in constant contact with all kinds of people. What I find shocking is how many people I come across that ooze entitlement, dismiss rules and have a complete disregard for any authority. Maybe Im old fashioned, maybe I just had good parents. As an adult in my early 40's, I try to be kind. Always. Before I say anything I ask myself, how will what I say benefit this conversation? I think before I speak. I was raised to believe that we can agree to disagree and debate is healthy. In addition to that, I hold the door open for people, offer a hand when groceries may seem heavy for an elderly person, stand to the side to let someone pass, stand up when someone elderly needs to sit, listen without interrupting. I also, write thank you notes, remember an anniversary, celebrate the birthdays of people I care about, and generally go out of my way to be kind. I mean as humans, we are programed to be caring and nurturing. It warms my heart when my 19 year old comes home from college and wants to take flowers to our old neighbor, to visit with her because she is elderly and doesn't get many visitors.

You see, children learn what they live. I try to live by my mothers golden rule: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. There is something about keeping your thoughts positive. Words are like daggers and once you throw them, they stick. You can't take them back. and today, heck, its going to be recorded or if texted, a screenshot taken only to live on forever. As I get older, I firmly believe in that one simple guideline. It is truly the one I live by. Now, Im not trying to play prima donna, we all have those days that we want to rant about someones actions or words. What I mean is it's ok to be frustrated, have an opinion, get angry or upset. It's ok to disagree. It is NOT ok to be verbally abusive, disrespectful or threaten someone. What we do with the emotion and frustration is where things get tricky. Bring it to someone you trust, let it out, by all means vent and when your done let it go… but use caution… especially in front of children. If confronted in a situation its ok to stand up for yourself but in a manner of self respect. If the confrontation gets escalated, I was taught to walk away. I can clearly remember my mom saying, "it takes a bigger person to walk away." I feel a majority of society, on a whole, is cynical and standoffish. Maybe because this generation takes the position of "don't get involved". If someone is getting pushed around, the general population thinks, let me get out my camera and record it. Never thinking, let me help to stop it. I get that inserting yourself in a situation is not safe in some instances.. but not all.

It's important for our kids to witness our actions, hear our words and see our kindness to each other as the adults. Technology, social media and social platforms all provide the tools that give us as adults, the ability to rise up and lead. We choose which way we will live our lives and some us choose to be responsible and some just don't care. The posts shared on Facebook, tweets made should reflect how we want our children to view us and ultimately giving them a guideline of how to behave in public. If we are sharing demeaning and hurtful memes or less then cordial posts, it gives the message that its ok. Flying off the handle, making fun of someone, passing along hateful posts, speaking ill of someone or sharing fabricated stories are just the beginning. How about defamation, mockery, disrespect or just plain being mean, what about racial posts, sexually charged posts and things that are completely inappropriate. I have to admit, I am often shocked at some of the things people put out there.

In a noisy society, with so many outlets of influence, our kids are exposed to so much from a very young age. There are far too many opportunities throughout the day that have a direct impact on them that encourage bad behavior. From TV shows, radio, the behavior of fellow classmates, even the adults that are surround them that making good choices can be somewhat difficult and clouded. More than anything, they need to see and hear us, as their parents, lead by example. Both at home and online. So before you dismiss someones feelings, make fun of someone, or say something negative, think about who is listening, and watching. Teach them to have integrity, so they know that it's not what others think of them but what they think of themselves.


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