Sunday, January 30, 2011

Teaching Kindness

I have good intentions.
I am loaded with them.
I am always thinking of things I want to do for people: bake for them, make for them, cards to write, notes to send, doing this, doing that.
The problem, though, is that I often lack follow through.
Very often.
Saying "I hope you feel better" is one thing.
But sometimes we need to step up and do a little bit more.

I'd like to improve in this area of my life.
Mostly because it feels good to do nice things for other people.
It gives me a great amount of joy. 
Also, I know how good it makes me feel when others send a little kindness my way, and I want to share that feeling.

I also want to teach my children to find the joy in being kind.
If you have spent any time around children, you know being kind does not come naturally.
Thinking of themselves first is actually what comes naturally.
It may pain you to admit that sweet little children are quite often selfish little beasts, but that is the cold, hard truth.
So what can I do to help my children not turn into selfish adults?
Here are a few ideas:
1.  Start small.
2.  Make it matter to them.
3.  Follow through.

Earlier this week, a friend from our home school group fell in her backyard and got a long splinter in her arm.  By the next morning it looked bad enough to warrant a doctor visit.
He declared it looked bad enough to warrant an ER visit.
The ER doctor declared it looked bad enough to warrant surgery.
For a 4 year old with a big splinter in her arm.
She ended up with stitches, a soft cast and instructions to take it easy.

My initial thought was, "how can I help my friend as she deals with her injured daughter, her 2 other kids and running a household?"
I was ready to involve the kids in whatever item we were going to bake, but then I realized, I needed to let them minister to their friend.
She was the one who was hurting and this was a chance for them to show her some kindness.

So we made cards.
Watching chubby hands with dirty nails painstakingly writing out "Get Well Soon," and crumpling many a paper before it was right is a sweet little memory for me.
I love his big 4 year old letters.

James drew a portrait of her in her card.
It reminded me a bit of that drawing Napolean does for Trisha when he asks her to the prom.
I see some scary times ahead in the teen years, that's all I'm sayin.

Then we picked some flowers from our yard, put them a jar tied with a pink ribbon and delivered them to our friend.  (good reason to save your jars.  you never know when you might need a flower vase.)
The boys were thrilled with our little errand of kindness.
It meant a lot to them to be doing it for their friend, rather than my friend.
It was personal to them.

It didn't have to be fancy.  It just mattered that we did it.
It's like putting things away.  You have to do it right away, or things just pile up and you never get to it.
And when our friend's mommy called to say that it made J.'s day, the boys' faces lit up.
They were terribly embarrassed, but I could tell by their smiles that they felt good.
And that is what it is all about.
Doing good feels good.

Romans 12:9-21 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  It is so rich in practical advice on how I should live my daily life.  (read it here).
The kids are memorizing verses 9 & 10.  They fit so perfectly with my desire to teach them (and myself) to show kindness to others.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

So tell me, how do you teach your children to be kind?
What kindness has been shown to you and what did it mean to you?
I'd love to be inspired by your stories.

Love from,


Phyllis said...

This is a great post. I love the way you not only remind us of an important thing, but also show it in action. (Have you seen Katherine Marie's 52 smiles? )

Lisa said...

awesome post Greta. Pnut gave me his little Cookie monster guy to sleep with, to help keep bad dreams away.
Kids can be surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Yous certainly have a great teacher. :D