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We are living in a world where there is a lot of cruelty, bullying, and just plain disrespect. I mean let's face it, not only are kids taking their own lives all over the planet but they are shooting up entire schools. Oh how very quick we are to get at our kids about these "crazy insane kids” who must have been raised in completely dysfunctional homes. It must be what they are or are DOING not DOING in schools. It's the TV they are watching, social media, the filthy music and so on, but seldom do we stop and reflect back on how we ourselves interact with others in front of them. That guy you may have sworn at in the car who made the sudden left turn in front of you. That chat at the dinner table with your husband about the coworker that you just can not stand and how you are going to not take her crap (think of the details you may have gone into.) The mocking about people on TV or even slamming politicians. Have you read the media right now? Half the conversations we are having at the water cooler, waiting at swimming lessons, in the hockey arena is based on our distaste or dislike or even hate toward what we hear on the media .
Brene Brown calls it C.E.I (common enemy intimacy.) It has become a way we make small talk these days. Why bother talking about the Muskoka weather when you can go off on Trump for a straight hour and be sure the person beside is going to go on about it with you. When our friendship is based on our hatred or dislike about a person it's a superficial bond. Our friendship is founded and created from hate. The things we dislike or hate are often easier to form a connection over than the things that we have chosen to love and invest life into because there is very little invested personally in what we hate. Hate does not require for you to think it through, it's this reactive feeling so it pours out of us because it's at the surface. We must realize that we are teaching this to the little ears around us as we drive them around and we are on speaker phone or in the mall with a friend, while we are having these angry conversations they are sitting with us. We want our kids to connect kindly and be this open minded young adult but yet we teach such mixed messages with how we ourselves act as adults.
How do you respond in your house to your spouse when you are really angry? Do you listen at times to your child when they get into arguments and hear a smaller version of you when you are angry? When all the anger was going around about Don Cherry for example, did you have conversations about your opinion with your child to only prove your point? Or did you share the reason people have an opposing view? It's easy to blame hate on other things and how our child's lack of empathy is driving you mad and you think society is the contributing factor. I want us all to really think about how we're breeding it at times from our own behaviour. I know that as a mom who has had children go into child psychology classes, I have to go over all the mistakes I made as a mom- and there are many lol - but I take it with a grain of salt. We do the best we can with what we have, until we know better and then we do better. I just think that we really have to start at home to be the change. You cannot love everybody all the time but if you do not want your 5 year old calling his friend a @#$% then you may want to alter what you call yours when you're ticked?
This goes for how we talk about ourselves as well. Are you someone who makes a mistake and are quick to yell “oh you are so stupid while slapping your forehead.” Do not feel bad if you do, because that would honestly be more of us than you think. It's just harder when they come home defeated from school with a paper the bombed on, for you to tell them to stop being self deprecating when you yourself spent the morning doing it. Kindness first has to be taught to oneself. We first have to find self love and value in ourselves before we can ask it of our children. When we miss the gym and lose it on ourselves, or we go on about everything we eat after that or stare in the mirror and slander our bodies we are teaching our kids about hate not love. So what if we spent some time really thinking about how we model love and kindness. Picking an activity with your youth that you can do together like helping out at a food bank or raising money for the dog shelter. Things that may take away from “their time” and giving it to others. Teaching them the act of paying it forward, this is fun to do with your youth; like paying for the person behind you for a meal or even a coffee and the next time encouraging them to choose a pay it forward task. What you do will model that kindness for your youth.
Remember kindness, love, trust, respect and manners all start at home.
We cannot be perfect but I like to think that we can all make a change in this world. Our youth are our future we need to really look at the role we play around kindness at home. We are all in this together.
Here is a great link to books that are great for teaching kindness and
empathy - https://www.worldreader.org/blog/7-books-that-inspire-empathy-in-children/?keyword=top%20books%20for%20kids&gclid=CjwKCAiAlO7uBRANEiwA_vXQ-8VM4Ihijfej5WSMPd-aafVLK0ffONpbIeZQxgX3Bxle2ePObZL1EBoC168QAvD_BwE
I also will have books for struggling parents at the Door Youth Centre and will be starting a partnering parents group in the new year so we can discuss topics such as this further.
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