Listen up, parents. We’ve got some important work to do. And it can’t wait.
I’ve taught kindergarten through middle school. I’ve worked in poor neighborhoods and rich ones, in charter, private and public schools, in different states and even in a different country; and though I’ve seen many differences, there are a few things I undoubtedly see day after day, year after year in my classroom—without fail.
I see kids who are begging for someone to really listen to what they’re saying; kids who are begging to be HEARD.
I see kids who need someone to really look at what they’re doing; kids who need to be SEEN.
I see kids who are searching for someone to acknowledge their best efforts regardless of the outcomes.
I see kids who are praying for someone to validate their feelings, no matter how big or small they seem.
I see kids who are desperate to be loved just as they are.
And they come to school seeking these things because they’re not getting enough outside it.
I’ve seen it across ages, genders, races, religions, citizenship, tax brackets, neighborhoods, IQ scores, and test scores.
So before you brush this off and excuse yourself by saying “my kids know how much I love them” and assuming “ there’s no way she’s talking about my kids…”
Before you point your finger at the “others”—the helicopter parents, the crunchy parents, the stay-at-home parents, or the working parents…
Before you blame it all on politics, a broken education system, millennials, or social media, take a moment, look in the mirror and consider this:
What am I doing as a parent to be the change I want my children to see in this world?
Am I treating my children the way I’d like to be treated—with respect and kindness and compassion?
When I speak to my children, am I using the words I want to become the words they will use to speak to themselves and to others?
Am I behaving in a way I’d want them to behave—in both times of great joy and times of anger, disappointment, sadness or frustration?
Do I make sure that whatever time I have with them—no matter how much or how little—is quality time, without any other distractions?
Am I modeling—not lecturing—the qualities I want them to emulate? Manners. Gratitude. Patience. Empathy.
Am I using social media to spread messages of love, hope and kindness as opposed to judgments, comparisons, people-shaming and name-calling?
Am I seeing my kids for who they truly are – not who I wanted/ expected them to be—and am I meeting them right smack in the middle of where they are?
There are millions of little ways we can improve the world we live in, but the most powerful way to make a difference is through the heart of a child.
It’s not about adding one more thing to our parenting to-do list. It’s about how we are choosing to live our lives. It’s about who we are choosing to BE in front of their eyes day in and day out. It’s about reflection and responsibility.
Your words matter.
Your tone matters.
Your time matters and your touch matters.
How you use these things are entirely up to you, but our kids—and the generations that will follow—are depending on us now.
They need us to do better and the beauty of it is, we can.
You can. I can. We all can.
But what we can’t do anymore is wait.
BE the change you want your children to see in this world.
Today. Tomorrow. And for all of your days.
This post originally appeared at A Place Within Me, published with permission.