Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 10: Acceptance is Kindness

My little guy practicing kindness as he decorates a special cookie for his Dad.
Let’s face it- our world can be an unkind place.

People do cruel and inhumane things on a daily basis.  Just read the front page of the paper.

Little acts of kindness often get lost in a swirl of anger, sadness, and fear.

Too many children are no longer learning lessons of character at home.  Instead, we are teaching them these lessons at school and hoping they become internalized.

Sadly, in school, reading, writing, and math are graded and assessed, but children don't receive a score for kindness and compassion.

We place great emphasis on academics in school, but we don't spend nearly enough time developing a child's character.  We want to teach our students life skills, but there is never enough time in the day.

But lessons of character are more important than ever.

It’s hard to find the courage, especially as a child, to show kindness and compassion for the person that no one wants to befriend.

A few months ago when the ice bucket challenge was so popular, I wrote a post about a cruel trick that a group of teens played on an autistic boy.  They pretended to do the challenge with the boy, but instead dumped bodily fluids on the boy’s head.  You can read my entire post here.  As horrifying as that story is, it did have a happy ending because the community rallied in support of the victim and worked to bring justice to those teens who committed that heinous act. 

Kindness and compassion go a long way.

Most of us have been the victims of bullying or the cruelty of others at some point in our life.

I’ll never forget the time that I was playing on a high school sports team.  I was a freshman at the time and was moving up the ranks on the team.  Some of the older girls were jealous of this and would give me the cold shoulder during practice.  One day it started to rain, and so as everyone scrambled for their cars to seek shelter from the storm, one by one, they locked their car doors, and I was left standing outside as the rain poured down on my head.  To this day, I can still remember the sting in my heart as I looked at the line of cars and the faces of the girls inside turned away, pretending not to see me.  I can hear the click of the locks.  After the season ended, I did not join the team the following year.

Everyone wants to be accepted for the person who they are. 

As my son gets older, I know that his behaviors will set him apart as different.

I pray that this does not make him a target.

I pray that he will be stronger than I was if other kids act in cruel ways towards him.

I pray that if he is faced with cruelty, he will find the words to tell me or the adults in his life what is going on and to find the words to advocate for himself.

But, most of all, I pray that the children who are his friends will continue to show kindness and acceptance for the person who he is.

Because, while academics are important, so is kindness.

I hope this generation of children learn kindness because our world is going to need it most of all.

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