Kids and Kindness

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By: Mark Persall

“Be ye kind, 1,2,3, Ephesians 4,3,2.” 

At two years old, our daughter Hannah was learning to memorize scripture. In the meantime, she was also learning to count to ten. She was excited to learn and was making progress.  She wasn’t great at making sense when she combined the two.  

It has been a few years since Hannah was combining scripture memory with math. She now has four children of her own. Three are in school, and one is still at home. Maybe her youngest is now learning scripture and math.  

As the fall semester approaches the end, Hannah and her family, along with her sister and her family will join us in a few days to celebrate the holidays. Assembling of the tribe of twelve always includes some aspect of character development.

I texted with the girls earlier this month in preparation for our family Christmas gathering. My grandchildren and I get extended time together, and I wanted to know what character qualities Hannah and Hilary wish to incorporate into their children’s development in 2020. A quick reply from my oldest made her request clear: Kindness! Our family just had a whole mom-in-tears talk about it this evening.”  

It is easy to identify when children are unkind to one another. Helping them choose kindness isn’t so easy. It is easier to learn how to win an argument than to learn how to be kind.  Our six grandkids come from good stock. They know what kindness looks like, for they’ve seen it modeled by their parents. And still at Christmas, as the clan comes together, there will be opportunities for patience to wear thin, selfish acts to become contagious, and kindness to be disregarded. 

So during our Christmas, we will revisit “be ye kind 1, 2, 3.”

Be ye kind 1. When the tribal council meets to decide where we are going for dinner, and it doesn’t match your personal choice, be ye kind.

Be ye kind 2. When a sibling or cousin or parent offends you in statement or manner; be ye kind.

Be ye kind 3. When feelings are hurt, or someone is neglected; be ye kind.

We live in a culture that rewards the right answer, grades to the wrong answer, and expects individuals to go along to get along. When the answer is correct, and the rules are followed, kindness is not required. My family is messier than that: we welcome independent thinkers. Misunderstanding is sometimes collateral damage. Disappointments and hurt feelings routinely occur.

So we will be intentional for a few days to be on high alert for reminders of the opportunity to be kind. There is no doubt that each member genuinely loves our family, and love is kind. There have been moments of extreme patience demonstrated by each member of the household. The display of patience has restored strained relationships because kindness leads to repentance.

In this holiday season, while you celebrate Love, and sing songs of Joy, join the Persall clan in a rekindled effort to focus on kindness. Ready, Set, “Be ye kind 1,2,3”, Go!