Real Talk: Cultivating Kindness

Surely by now we all are friends. At least the distant digital kind that give a listening ear and kindness when we need it. Right now I need a real talk moment. Parenting has been quite a struggle for me recently. I find myself so easily agitated at my children, even the littlest one, barking orders at them, wishing the day away until it’s time for bed. It’s such a shame because I see how it affects their tempers and attitudes. How they’re treated is often reflected in how they treat others. These days it’s mostly with annoyance and anger. Sigh.

What’s the most difficult is that my two boys are absolute turds. I say that in the most loving, motherly way, but holy shit, they are so loud and fight so much. And you know, Jason and I try to teach them kindness and gentleness, but out come the punches and cries that someone took something that they were looking for and will neeeeever give it baaaaack, despite all of our modest attempts at guiding them to loving others. That’s about when I drop my head and wait desperately for 8pm reading, toothbrush, pj, and bed time. Okay, honestly, they could go to bed in jeans and cavities at that point. Just please, for the love of god, close the door and fall asleep. And there you have it. A vicious cycle of anger begetting anger, and more anger, and a heaping tablespoon of annoyance. No wonder my kids are just so lovely to be around.

I think that it was, oh, everyday this week that the boys were squabbling when I pulled them aside to talk to them about kindness, about honoring others with our words and our actions, loving others, treating them how they would like to be treated. They both darted their eyes around the room, squirming to get away from their nagging mom, and told each other sorry, now give me back boy toy, you thief! 

You know, cultivating kindness really is difficult. Everything in our flesh rejects it. It is a discipline to think of others and not yourself. To forgive when you have been wronged. To love when others hate. Selfishness and pride rule our bodies and minds. Well, at least in our family. And that’s really what I have been struggling with. My own selfishness and time. I want to do what I want, when I want it. So, naturally, that causes conflict between me and my toddler when she’s hungry right when I want to, oh, go to the bathroom or check my email. It also causes conflict when I don’t want to read or play games with my son after he’s been asking for an hour. And I get annoyed. Then he hits his brother. Like I said, it’s a vicious cycle.

But you know, I could go off and read a list on how other families have worked to cultivate kindness – writing encouraging letters to each other, baking each other cookies, shooting rainbows from their… I’ll stop – but those lists always leave me feeling like a pretty big failure. My kids don’t donate their allowance money to starving kids in Haiti. Hell, I can’t even get them to loan me $5 for a coffee at Target. They have Minecraft paraphernalia to buy! But what we can do is cultivate forgiveness. When they do wrong they can confess, ask forgiveness, and be forgiven. Maybe that will cultivate more kindness in the long term. To know that you’re forgiven and loved would motivate anyone to be kind to others. Even me.


13 thoughts on “Real Talk: Cultivating Kindness

  1. When it comes to children, they are very keen on observing hypocrisy. For children to respond to teaching they need to see “it” in action – not just in their own home, but in society at large. The violence you are experiencing coming from your boys is the reflection of the violence innate to your own society with its gun fetish and endless wars of oppression. As a society Americans have chosen not to see, in fact have chosen to be prideful about their brutality and violent ways. They imported it from Britain, beginning with the burning of “witches” at the stake and going on to commit genocide upon the original inhabitants of the land. Then came to boat loads of half-dead black slaves from Africa. Nothing has been done to rectify all the crimes of genocide, of slavery, of racism, of police brutality, of violent, bloody entertainment, of unbelievable bloody interventions in sovereign nations all over the planet but particularly in Central and South America and Viet Nam and endless wars committed by your nation – crimes that are going on right now, and nothing being done by Americans to put an end to it. I’d say quite the contrary. Your children are reacting to their society’s innate love of violence, that’s all. You may be able to create a small sanctuary, a small world of kindness and forgiveness in your own home through great sacrifice, but who’s got the lion’s share of their time and attention? In America, to expect kindness and forgiveness is to expect a miracle and I for one don’t believe in miracles, just what I observe. Sorry, but this need be said, by a Canadian neighbour who spent years helping the people your military and “Contras” were decimating to make slaves of sovereign peoples and the lands safely exploitable by US multinationals. The hypocrisy I speak of above is a national hypocrisy, not personal. That is what has to change – and will not until America is no more.
    (You need not reply, and you certainly may delete this comment. You may also remove my name from your blog followers if you find this offensive.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why ever would I do that? I think you are pointing to something very important. There is a field of study called “epigenetics” that researches and uncovers the impacts of historical trauma as it is passed through our genes to our children from our ancestors. It isn’t a new practice, but has just been caught on by modern researchers. Western colonialism is discovered to have a very significant impact on all of us. Though, I would argue that this is not unique to western colonialism, it is just our experience. This type of trauma can be traced back through millennia. Looking back at North American indigenous peoples oral histories we can even see traces of trauma that pre date colonialism, though without a doubt, colonialism is the source of quite a bit of it, if not most of it. Here is an article that talks about epigenetics for you to read. I think that you would find it very interesting:

      And I do think that you nailed my hypocrisy on the head. That is generally my life. I am a living, breathing hypocrite in need of my friend’s and family’s grace and forgiveness daily. Thank you, as always, for reading and for talking.


      1. Thank you for the link, I will certainly read up on that – no college ed here, need all the help I can get. When I “accused you” of hypocrisy, I wasn’t excluding myself. Hypocrite? Mea culpa, mea culpa, first of all. Thanks for your broad-mindedness and understanding. There is “us” as individuals which through expanding awareness we can change, and there is the “System” we literally exist as slaves under and which will only change when individuals withdraw their allegiance and cease serving them blindly. To simplify what I mean by that, I narrow them down to three main aspects: organized Religion, the State, and Money. Where these rule, we are their slaves. Hint: try bringing up the concept of compassion to your children. If it takes, you will experience a miracle.


  2. Parenting is tough. I think there is something about being the person you want your kids to be, modelling that, rather than explaining and “lecturing” – especially to little ones. But also, you can’t fill up glasses from an empty jug. In your last post you sounded stretched and tired and low in a way I haven’t seen you be before. Maybe you need to think about everybody’s needs in your family, including your own?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stretched and low definitely is how I have been feeling lately. This summer was more difficult than I even know it was. I’m trying to find places and ways to recharge my batteries. This is the first time in a very long time that I’m not working, so I’m attempting to find myself in different ways than I have in the past. Thank you so much for your care and support. I’m lucky to have you here talking with me!


      1. That’s a massive transition, and I am sure you are still processing that loss (of work). it’s such a source of identity, meaning, satisfaction, adult company, hot coffee…good luck, have courage and be kind (as they say in Cinderella…)


  3. Forgiveness is so key-you’ve really hit on something here.
    My children are both grown now and drawn back toward one another with much affection. You won’t give up and they will remember your kindness lessons, I am sure of it. What a great mom you are.

    Liked by 1 person

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