The Biggest Responsibility of a Parent

Here in Canada, we just celebrated Thanksgiving.  Status updates of thankfulness flooded my facebook news feed. Posts about family, love, and happiness were abundant. I spent a wonderful week-end with my family.  All the people I met while out and about in preparation for a week-end of food and family were full of joy. The spirit of Thanksgiving had touched everyone I crossed paths with.

It was rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies…at least for a little while. Until the week after Thanksgiving came and I could only wonder if there was a full moon.

Some angry dude cut me off in traffic.

A message of hate popped up within a group supporting Children’s hopes and dreams. To be honest my first thought was “You sir, are an ass hat.” I tried to reply with tact in the face of such hatred and ignorance.

My facebook feed of thanksgiving was replaced with a handful of rants and complaints.  Not many, but just enough to make me want to shut down my account in annoyance. I have so much to be thankful for…we all do. The freedom of expression and of speech, a warm house to live in, and food in my belly. The fact I’ve struggled with my weight all these years is a clear indicator of just how lucky I have been to have a fridge stocked with more food than I need.

My daughter came home in tears because a girl in school called her fat. Again.

I could list more examples, but it doesn’t matter. You get the point.

As I was wondering what is wrong with people, a thought came to mind “Who are these people’s parents? How is it they don’t know how to treat others with respect?”  The answer to this question, and the responsibility for this issue flooded my heart. I realized that I hold the key to the solution.

Because I AM A PARENT.

One thing I’ve learned through raising three kids, is that they are born pure of heart. They learn their behaviour based on their environment.  Kids are giving, loyal, loving, and accepting.  They play hard, dream big, and love with no limits.

We as parents have a responsibility my friends.  Among the many responsibilities we shoulder, above all we need to teach our children to be kind, patient, loving, and giving. We need to show them how to put the needs of others before our own, to help our neighbours, our friends, our family, and yes…even strangers too.

As I was deep in thought, I challenged myself with these questions: Am I the example my children need of a person who shows others love and kindness?  Are they learning these important lessons at home?  It’s not enough for me to explain kindness to my kids, I need to show my children through my actions.

Actions speak volumes, and repetition of action breeds habit. Acts of kindness will be engrained within them like rings on a tree. It’s effortless because it becomes who they are as people. Given the environment of generosity and selflessness, little people with big hearts mature into grown ups with giving hearts.

I wanted to share this with you today not to imply that you aren’t raising your kids right, but rather to encourage you to show love to others in ways that your children will replicate. Our children are watching us.

I am humbled by today’s revelation, and I will put these thoughts into actions to make sure that I am an example of kindness that my children desperately need to in turn show kindness and acceptance to others.

I may not be able to change the world, but I can affect the way my three amazing children view this world. I can teach them to give and in turn they will make this beautiful world a better place not just for themselves, but for those around them who need their support and love.

It’s not enough to be kind to those we love. Anyone can do that.

To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind, and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days.
Thomas Dekker 

From my thankful heart to yours,