I began a small series a few weeks ago regarding words that God has highlighted in my heart this year.
Kindness has been a word that God has been imprinting on my soul for a few years, so, to be fair, it’s not necessarily a “this year” word.
I guess… it’s more of a lifetime word.
I admire kind people—I’m drawn to them like a moth to light. (Which may not be the best comparison because moths get zapped by the light they’re drawn to—and kind people rarely zap others.)
I don’t believe it’s just me. There is something almost other-worldly about a person that exudes kindness, especially when faced with an ugly situation.
Unfortunately, kindness is not exactly a trait that comes naturally to me. I hate to even admit it because I wish I was a super gracious, kind, individual at all times. But I’m not.
I’ve decided it’s a little bit like a superpower to be truly kind—mostly because it takes supernatural power.
And so, I have decided to be a student in kindness.
I used to think of kindness as simply being nice to someone— buying a person’s dinner or helping a stranger on the street.
But that doesn’t do real kindness justice.
We’re actually told that love IS kind… 1 Corinthians 13:4
A few years back God highlighted this scripture in my heart through the lens of parenting.
I never used to think of kindness with respect to the very people I spend the majority of my life with—my children.
But It makes sense.
After all, these are the people who suffer the brunt of my mood swings when I’m stressed, tired or burnt out. They have front row seats to my worst days where my patience is tattered and worn.
It’s easy to slap on a smile in front of acquaintances but not so much with those that I’m most comfortable around.
My son can test my limits.
I actually wrote about it here.
My husband often tells my little guy that he has “spirit” and he just needs to funnel it where it belongs…rather than fighting his mom over EVERYTHING. It’s a work in progress…
Being kind when I’m exhausted and he’s trying my patience is a struggle. I am no pro at this by any means, therefore the term, “student in kindness.”
However, I have learned something quite simple when it comes to parenting with kindness:
Do you know when you have those face-palming moments where you can not believe you never thought of this before? (Are you picturing the face-palm emoji right now? I hope so—it would make my day.)
A little over a year ago I had one of those moments when I was dealing with my son and one of his tyrannical breakdowns.
As I looked at him—red-faced, tear-stained and dropped to the floor—I realized something:
Just as I’m learning the ropes of parenting him, he is learning the ropes at life.
So, it’s simple really: it’s remembering that this is his first time being a kid.
My son has never done this before–he’s never been a nine-year-old. Every emotion and thought he is feeling is new. So, if I don’t kindly direct those thoughts and feelings—even the rather irritating, trying and completely irrational ones—who will?
Where will he turn if I do not guide and direct him? This spirited little guy will channel those thoughts and emotions in the most negative of ways.
Parenting with kindness is simply extending the grace God has given us, right on over to our children.
God has been so unbelievably patient with me through all of my stumbling, tripping and outright defiance.
Why then, should my children get any less?
I stumble at this, friend.
I’ve found myself apologizing frequently to my kids when I’ve responded to them unkindly. But you know, that’s where I’ve seen kindness and grace pay off in our home.
From my mistakes.
When I set the example by owning my mistakes it changes the dynamic of our relationships and our home.
This word. Kindness. It just changes everything.
When I began truly thinking in terms of kind parenting, I thought, “How on earth am I supposed to be kind while disciplining a disobedient child?”
The actual definition of kindness in the dictionary is the quality of being gentle, caring and helpful.
You can parent gently, and in a caring and helpful way while still making an impact for change.
Our correction of our children is never meant to harm, but to help.
It may look different for each parent, but one thing I often do is allow space for their emotion.
When my son is having a—”School is stupid and I don’t want to do this”—kind of morning, (yes, these are his eloquent words) I calmly tell him he can go sit in the chair or go back up to his room until he is ready to join us and not interrupt our day.
Is this always easy? Short answer—nope. But it’s so worth it when I choose this option rather than freaking out and yelling.
Sharing kindness out into the world is wonderful, but parenting with kindness is grassroots, it’s beginning at the begining—it’s choosing to effectively effect change right where we are able to do the most.
What if we extended kindness into all aspects of our lives— Parenting with kindness, or putting kindness at the center of our marriages?
I wonder how our families and lives would change for the better if we chose to remember that love is kind.
When I realize that kindness isn’t being actively played out in my family interaction, I have to step back and ask myself—who do I love more than anyone on this planet? My family.
(I often ask myself this question just as I’m on the edge of insanity and I’m ready to drive 800 miles away and sit on a warm beach by myself.)
Yes, this is a well thought out imaginary scenario.
So, clearly, if my family is my greatest love on Earth and if love is kind—no brainer.
It’s convicting every time I stop and think this over because I always have a choice with my response to them;
Kind or unkind.
Being a “student in kindness” forces me to sit daily at the foot of the cross to find my strength to continue on this journey.
Since being kind is a superpower, I need his supernatural strength to be supernaturally kind, especially in the place it matters most—raising my people.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,