Raising My Kids To Be Gentle

Recently social media has been flooded with arguments.

We are angry about loose gun laws. We fight about looting and vandalism. We scream about mental health. We play the race card. We debate the merits of rape and good parenting. We blame Muslims. We blame terrorists. We blame gay people. We blame the government. We’re scared for our children. We’re scared for us. We write more articles about empathy. We apportion blame to this, that or the other.

All of these hateful and ugly things are making people frustrated and defensive and scared. And I absolutely get it. I’m frustrated, too. It is frustrating that we use up precious real estate hating each other. Space where love could live. And all of our finger-pointing and asking for our problems to be solved outside of ourselves leaves me feeling discouraged. Because the only difference we can ever really truly make is an inside job. I’m frustrated by our unwavering desire to be right. How can we possibly HEAR anything over all of our righteousness?

I’m concerned by how much we allow fear to lead us. It’s disheartening that humans all over our world are still regularly persecuted for attempting to be their authentic selves. There is so much hurting, everywhere. I’m frustrated that privilege is still power and it continues to make parts of us feel less than. But, honestly, our frustrations aren’t helpful unless they motivate us to actually HELP. Right? And our choices are so important.

I am acutely aware of how my reactions to life impact my kids’ reactions. They see us. They hear us. They mirror us. What reflection do we want staring back at them, even (and especially) when life feels unkind?

I recently read a sentiment that suggested we have “gone soft” as parents and this has led to a generation of wholly ungrateful, undisciplined and disrespectful young people. It made me stop and think deeply about what I really want for my kids. And it is this:

I want my kids to be soft and gentle.

I do.

In a world full of rough edges and sharp corners, I want to raise humans who are gentle and kind.

When life is dark, I want them to always look for the light. And when fear’s grip tightens, I want them to know that FEAR IS NEVER LIGHT. Ever. Fear is so convincing and it will take every ounce of their strength to remember in those hard moments that fear is never loving. Or kind. Or generous. Or compassionate. In fact, fear can’t survive in proximity to any of these things. When the world asks them to be scared and angry, I hope they are brave enough to lead relentlessly and unapologetically with love.

I want them to know that life is mostly (read: completely) defined by our reaction to it. I want them to not only imagine what we would be capable of TOGETHER if we listened more than we defended, reached out more than we pushed away, celebrated our unique viewpoints more than we insulted our differences – I want them to DO and BE these things.

I want them to know that the path to peace is one paved with love. Love isn’t the solution. It’s how we get there.

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