Deliberately seek opportunities for kindness, sympathy, and patience.” – Evelyn Underhill
“Love is Kind.” 1Corinthians 13:4
OK, last time we defined parental kindness by looking at what it is not: envious, boastful, proud, rude, selfish, easily angered and unforgiving. Today I want to talk about what parental kindness is.
Just listing the synonyms for kindness makes me picture that ideal mother: gentle, mild, courteous and considerate (the opposite of rudeness), generosity (not self-seeking), sympathetic, and tolerant (patient).*
Before birthing you expected kindness to be a non-issue – mostly because of all the Little House on the Prairie you saturated your brain with growing up. You decided to model yourself after Ma, and that chick was killer at kindness. Unfortunately, neither calculus nor character can be learned through osmosis. Take a look back at the Pee Shooter Revenge or Christmas Spirit Massacre stories from previous letters if you don’t believe me. Sorry to say, but once again we come back to the D-word: discipline. As with every other aspect of love, kindness is a discipline to be practiced. And it’s takes loads of hard work.
It takes discipline to be:
- Gentle when you’re late to the dentist and the baby won’t let you strap him in his car seat.
- Use courteous words to a bi-polar toddler who rejects Mommy all morning, then suddenly needs your full attention when you’re on the phone with the insurance company.
- Considerate of the feelings of a child who just made you a pretty picture colored with your newly purchased cosmetics.
- To generously share your precious Valentine’s Candy – especially with children who don’t fully appreciate dark chocolate.
- Sympathetic when your kid wakes you up by spewing partially digested mac and cheese on your hair.
- Tolerant of a person who eats boogers of every color and texture but judges 60% of your cooking as “gross.”
It takes discipline to be kind. Still, over my 21 years of parenting I can tell you that the central component to a lasting friendship with your children is the simple, brutally tough, daily practice of kindness. Just like every other aspect of love, you mess up from time to time. So, when you fall down on this apologize, forgive yourself, get back up and keep going. You will get better and better –which is good, because kindness becomes even more vital when toddlers turn into teenagers. Keep on keeping on, girlie!
Love, Older Wiser You
*Once again, when looking at one aspect of Biblical love we
bump into several others on the Apostle Paul’s list. Interesting how it all intertwines, yes?