Monthly Archives: May 2014

Family Kindness

Is it just me, or do we all take for granted our closest loved ones. Why is it so easy to for me to be snarky to my husband, but not a colleague or friend. Why is it so easy to be rude to the driver trying to merge over into “my” lane? Why is it so easy to lose our patience with our own children, but not our friend’s child. Why do we have a different standard of kindness for our family than our friends, neighbors, teachers and people in our community?

I once had my daughter say something rather shocking, “Wow mom, you are so nice to the cleaning lady, how come you’re not that nice to us?”  I was more than shocked, I was ashamed! How could I be so polite to people outside my family, but to my surprise, not very kind to my own family?! I know part of the reason was due to the fact that at that moment in time, my husband was in a medical rehab hospital recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury, so I was a bit over stressed and obviously short on patience, sleep, nourishment and loving kindness. The other reason, may sound like an excuse, however I think it’s important to mention. I was raised in a family that cared more about what our family looked like from the outside, than what was going on inside. So, even with many years of therapy, I was obviously making the same  or at the very least a similar mistake.  And maybe that is the root of the kids sibling rivalry and the unkindness they bestow on one another.

I like to believe that I am a kind person. I volunteer, I go out of my way to help when asked and even when not asked, I’m often kind to strangers, I’m kind to my friends and neighbors. Then, why is it so easy to be unkind to those we love the most?  I must sound like a raging bitch! I’m not, I am kind to my husband and children, until I run out of patience or I’m tired, or I’m pms-ing or I’ve had a long day or I’m being interrupted. Basically, without realizing it, my actions are speaking louder than my words. So again, I pose the question, Why is it so easy to be unkind to the ones we love the most? Where is the disconnect happening? I suppose this blog, is my way of finding the answer.

Please share and comment, Thank You!

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Sibling Kindness

I have been known to say to other parents, “my kids love each other 50% of the time and fight 50% of the time”. Well, now that they are 8 and 10, it feels more like 20% love and 80% fight.  I ask myself, is this normal? So, I ask around. Some parents say yes and others say no. So, then I wonder, what am I doing wrong as a parent. It’s not so much that they physically fight, its much more sophisticated. They know how to “bug each other,” “push each other’s buttons,” and how to get the other to react. Listening to them constantly argue, say unkind words, nit pick, mimic and even parrot me when I’m disciplining one of them, is enough to make me go nuts!

As a parent, I begin to wonder what it is that I or my husband may be doing to foster so much arguing, competition and fighting. I know I’m not alone.  I see other kids behaving the same way with their siblings. I fought with mine, my husband fought with his. But, does it have to be this way? Can we teach our children how to be kind to each other?  My kids are perfectly kind to their friends, peers, teachers, etc, but not to each other. I once read somewhere, that kids can get away with not being kind to their siblings, because unlike friends, siblings are always there. So one can be as mean as they want and the sibling will stick around, but if you were to treat your friends unkindly, they could and would find other friends. So back to my question, Can we in fact teach our kids to be kind to their sibling(s)? I would like to believe the answer is, Yes!

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Be the Change

I started 4 Acts of Kindness because I need more kindness in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I often get compliments about how sweet, polite and kind my children are. And they are. However, they are not always kind to each other. They are 2 years apart and get along about 25% of the time. The other 75% of the time, they bicker, argue and compete! It drives my husband and me crazy. We’ve tried everything, parenting books, a family kindness contract, therapy and yet the competition and sibling rivalry continues. Thus, my exploration into the subject of kindness.

I teach a Tween yoga class every Wednesday, so I took the opportunity to try out my 4 Acts of Kindness on this group first before I challenged my own children. I asked the girls to sit in a circle, close their eyes and breathe. I introduced the concept of the 4 Acts of Kindness:

  1. Being Kind to Yourself
  2. Being Kind to Others
  3. Being Kind to Someone you have a challenging relationship with, that you do not know very well, that you may not like or that you may find different or strange.
  4. Being Kind to our Earth

I asked the girls to try to perform these acts of kindness and then report back to me.  My hope is that by challenging myself and others to 4 Acts of Kindness daily that I will change, the people around me will change and maybe, just maybe I can spread more kindness in the world. Follow me on this journey and let’s see what we can do!

I challenge all of you to start practicing the 4 Acts of Kindness daily and let me know how the practice changes your life.

Thank you,

Jennifer

Mahatma Gandhi

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

― Mahatma Gandhi