This is a common statement we’re all taught as kids. In fact, I vividly remember being told this many times by the adults around me only to feel like maybe I was either being mislead or I just wasn’t worthy of being treated kindly by others. I mean, I would share and share but often times that same person would not share with me. Or I would go out of my way to be kind only to find that I would be left broken-hearted (even in my twenties, this was my experience). But here is the reality-Being nice to others does NOT guarantee niceness back to us…and to teach our kids that it does, I think, is simply setting them up for failure. I don’t want to teach my kids that they should be kind with the expectation or hope that they will then be treated kindly. I want them to be kind because they are kind and it’s the right thing to do for themselves and the world. I want to do all of this while also instilling the importance of self-respect so that it carries with them throughout life!
This is so important for me now as a parent to teach because I never want my kids to do something, anything, with the sole expectation to get something in return. This is called manipulation and is not a positive way to get along in the world. I want my kids to be kind because it’s who they are in the core of their soul, in their heart of hearts. I want them to be kind because it makes them feel good to stay true to who they are and finally I want them to be kind because I want them to be the change they wish to see in the world. But as parents we walk a very fine line with this lesson because what we don’t want is for their kindness to be taken advantage of or for their kind heart to be manipulated by others. And let’s face it, as adults we now see the world in a way they can’t just yet. But we still need to prepare them for what they will face as they grow. So how do we teach our sweet innocent children the importance of kindness while also making sure they are not taken advantage of in their world as they grow?
Let’s let’s go back to that old quote that’s been said for years. “Be nice to others and they’ll be nice to you. I mean, if you think about it, it has good roots. But what if we modified those roots a bit…How about this? “Be nice to others and you’ll find MOST OF THEM will be nice to you.” And we should go even further to say, “But sometimes, you’ll just need to walk away. And that’s OK my darling, because your sunshine can just be saved for someone else on another day!” This modified statement does three things: It teaches our kids to be kind, it teaches that not everyone will be nice back (no matter what they do), and that it’s alright to kindly walk away from those people that choose to be unkind, in fact, it’s encouraged. It’s taken me a lot of years and a lot of heart ache to be willing to kindly walk away from unkind, sometimes downright mean people and remove myself from their energy. I can think of so many past relationships especially, that I could have spared myself so much pain had I known when to walk away with my dignity intact.
I think it’s important for our children to be kind but to realize there is a limit to the lack of kindness they should accept. It comes down to self-respect, and if we can start this conversation early with our kids-imagine the adults they can be!
The Elle Grey Story, KINDNESS is coming soon!