I know it seems asinine of me to request something of you when I don’t even know you.
How dare I, a hard-working mother just like you, issue a humble appeal disguised as a thoughtless demand and expect for you to honor it “just because;”
…just because there is a “mom-code” we all adhere to;
…just because there is no way in heck I would ever ask you to do anything I wouldn’t stand for a stranger imposing upon me, right?
The truth is that it isn’t a simple request, and for that reason you may be tempted to half-ass your execution of it. But, I can assure you of one thing that is simple, and it’s a notion that I wholeheartedly believe in —
If you raise your children to be nice, and I raise my children to be nice, the world will be a lot better place for them, their children, their children’s children, and the entire legacy of decent, respectful, and respectable human beings we will leave on this Earth when it is our time to depart it.
But, you see, I know that you are someone irked by the fact that I felt compelled even to approach you with this request as if to make it apparent to you that I have obviously assumed that “nice” is not something you are already raising.
Don’t get your panties in a wad.
The truth is, as hard as you are trying to push “nice” behavior, thoughtful language, and considerate actions upon your children – with the lofty goal of breeding and encouraging a compassionate minded and selfless-hearted, empathetic child — so am I; but we are both messing up.
Yep, I called you out on a parenting mistake online.
SHAME ON ME.
But, guess what?
I am calling myself out too, and that I’m actually kind of proud of.
The thing is that we incorrectly assume (or just tell ourselves) that our children are learning from the words that we speak to them.
Yes, your conversations with your child matter and are important, and of course, they need your life “rules” to help guide them to a “successful” (whatever that means) future.
BUT, what our children need more than us telling them to “be nice” is for us to be a shining example of what that means.
When you cursed the car that cut you off as you turned into the coffee shop parking lot — that wasn’t nice (and sort of over-dramatic).
When you took the handicap spot because you were only going to be a quick second — that wasn’t nice (and was illegal).
When you were in such a rush that you didn’t hold the door for the person coming in right behind you — that wasn’t nice (and thoughtless).
When the man in front of you realized he forgot his wallet and couldn’t pay for his coffee, you didn’t offer to spot him the money when you were clearly capable of such — that wasn’t nice (and you missed your chance to put forth a little positive karma).
When the barista gave you “iced” instead of “hot” coffee, and you rudely demanded a new cup — that wasn’t nice (and pretty bigoted).
When you and your child arrive late to their school and you blame your child’s slow-to-rise nature for the tardiness — that is not nice (and is a flat-out lie).
You see, it is only 8:30 am, and it is quite possible that you have already exhibited some “not nice” behavior in clear view of your child’s curious eyes.
Those beautiful and innocent eyes, and the rest of our little sponges, well, they see and hear more than we realize or care to admit.
I’ve shared my belief that raising children to have a smart mouth is imperative, but without intelligence, empathy, and kindness coating one’s words, a smart mouth just sounds dumb.
And dumb is what we parents are when we fail to recognize that how we live every day including how we treat strangers, how we drive our car, how many doors we hold open, how we speak to service staff — all of that (and so much more) — plays a more significant role in shaping our children than our instruction or demand to them to merely “be nice”.