Kindness Counts


“I believe that my life’s gonna see

The love I give

Return to me” – John Mayer

“How do I know if a kid or a grownup is nice and not mean?”

The question came from out of the blue as we walked to school this morning, although from the tone of it you might think we that we were 45 minutes into an intense conversation about stranger danger.

She’s a thinker, my sweet little Riley.  While Liam likes to discuss a topic to completion, Riley needs time to process.  The questions almost always come much later, sometimes weeks after the initial discussion.

Squeezing her still little hand just a little too tight, we talked about finding the friendly face and looking for the helpers.  Sometimes grownups are tricky…but the helpers are around every corner.

Sometimes I wonder if she reads my mind.  Between the latest victim of bullying to hit the headlines and the teenage boys who know no human decency, the world scares me at times.  It scares me because it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, tragedy is everywhere…tragedy can happen at any time.

The truth is that we can only protect them for so long.  The minute they leave our arms to go to school, they are on their own.  We can’t predict what other children have been taught, and we can’t assume that all children will choose kindness.

But we can teach our own children the value of kindness, empathy, and mutual respect.  We can build up their self-confidence and make sure that they know the power of no, but we can do so by focusing on kindness.

Because kindness counts.

I want my daughter to be strong and assertive.  I wasted too many years trying to find my strong voice and I want her to know that her voice counts – right now – tomorrow – for days and months and years to come.  Her voice matters.

I want her to know that she has the right to say no, that she doesn’t have to make a choice based on the hope of a friendship that probably won’t last anyway, and that her heart will guide her toward an amazing future.

I want her to know that throwing a perfect spiral is important because, as my dad taught me, it shows the boys that you are a force to be reckoned with – that they can’t push you around.  But I also want her to get lost in her daydreams, chase butterflies forever, and know that a best friendship will get you through everything – absolutely everything.

Because kindness counts.

I will teach her that she is strong and independent and that she can open her own door, thank you very much.  But you better believe that I will teach her little brother to beat her to it and hold that door open for her.

Because kindness counts.

I want my son to know that nice guys actually do finish first.  I want him to know that you can be a star quarterback and treat women with the dignity and respect that they so deserve.

I want him to know that small acts of kindness, like opening that door, reap great rewards.  That people will eventually move on from negativity, but that they will always remember those who were kind along the way.

Because kindness counts.

I will teach him to stand up for himself – that bullies bully because they can and because they are insecure.  But that those who stop to help the victims along the way become our greatest leaders.

I will teach him that violence is never ever the answer.

Because kindness counts.

If there is one lesson I’ve learned over and over again, it’s that life is unpredictable.  We never know what’s just around the corner, and we only get one chance to get it right.

My children will be taught to lead with kindness.  No matter what they might face, they can always choose kindness – they can always choose to be the friendly face.

Because kindness counts.


6 comments responses to "Kindness Counts"

  • Oh, Tammy – yes. Your daughter needs to feel free to do whatever it takes to get out of a horrible situation – but let’s hope that never happens. I meant that in re: bullying. The injury and death tolls from bullying are just too much to bear…

    posted by: Katie Godbout Hurley on March 24, 2013

  • I totally agree. Kindness counts. But I can’t say that violence is never ever the answer. If my daughter is being groped by some guy, I want her to have no second thoughts about whether or not it was “nice” to kick him in the balls.

    posted by: Tammy on March 23, 2013

  • Hey Lisa- You can find my parent ed posts can be found on the Child Development blog at EveryDay Family, at allParenting, and at Practical Parenting. Moonfrye is for inspiration :)

    posted by: Katie Godbout Hurley on March 22, 2013

  • Thanks for your post.
    Can you please return to writing more practically. These essays are inspiring and not skills based learning focused.

    posted by: Lisa on March 21, 2013

  • Thank you so much!

    posted by: Katie Godbout Hurley on March 21, 2013

  • I love this blog post! So true. “Lead with kindness”. This is exactly what I want teach my children. I will definitely be sharing your post : ).

    posted by: aleciaspendlove on March 21, 2013