The other day on Facebook I read that my friend’s three year old son was being bullied. Not just day-to-day kid stuff; he was actually bullied. A three year old. It broke my heart. This started a conversation about how and why three year olds could be so unkind to another child. Where on Earth do they learn to speak like that? Everyone chimed in that these children must be learning this kind of behavior at home. While I highly doubt that this child’s parents are teaching their son or daughter to be mean to other kids, I do think that more than likely, the child is learning the behavior at home.
The reality is that we are raising children in very trying times.
There is a lot of hate swirling around and we would be mistaken to say that our children do not notice. Whether it is the way people speak to each other on TV or the way in which we talk to our spouses, our children notice. I am ashamed to admit that my children probably caught me speaking not too kindly about the recent political race. Even though I tried my best to educate my children during the election season, it seemed that so much around us was fueled by hate, and my children noticed.
Most days I wake up feeling ill equipped to raise my children.
I probably allow them to watch too much Disney Jr. and to eat a little too much sugar. I still let my five year old climb into bed with me in the middle of the night and my two year old knows how to work my iPhone. I know that I’m not doing it all right and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there is one thing that I do know: I want to teach my children to love other people and to love them well. I want to teach my children to put their differences aside and speak kindly to one another. Even as toddlers, children are aware and I believe teaching them starts at home. It starts with the way that my husband and I talk about other people and the way we speak to each other.
It isn’t always easy to not lose my patience and to not snap at my children when I have asked them five times to put on their socks, but I want them to give each other grace when they get frustrated. Why would they do that if I don’t model the behavior? I fail at this every day. Multiple times a day, I fail. But, I want to try to do better. If not for myself, for them. And if not for them, for our community. Because it needs it. We all need it.