As I try to gather my thoughts about what has happened in Parkland, Florida, I sit and imagine what it would have been like if that was my kid’s school. I wonder what our quiet suburban elementary school would have been like surrounded by police and news crews.
It’s an image that no parent should have to imagine, but in today’s world, as we drop our kids off at school, we are forced to hope that they come home safely. It’s just one more thing that I have to add to my daily routine when I am drop off William: we give each other a high-five and say, “I love you!” while I watch him grow up, hoping that I can see him continue to grow up as I watch him walk into his school.
Why You Should Teach Your Kids Empathy and Compassion
It wasn’t two days before the events in Parkland that I saw a Mass Mutual commercial with real-life stories about people standing by other people. You see a group of bikers bring a kid who has been bullied to school. You see a group of high school students who start a lunch club so that no one has to eat alone.
It was then that I remembered hearing something that William had done on a recent field trip that I can only take the accounts from my wife who was there to witness this.
During lunch on the trip, my son saw a boy sitting alone at one of the picnic tables. He looked at his mother and said, “I’m going to go over and sit next to him, so he doesn’t have to sit alone.”
According to my wife, it looked as though they were having a great time and it was just what this boy needed. While I have no idea what they talked about, this was exactly what this boy needed, someone to accept who he is and be a friend, someone to “stand by him.” He didn’t want to feel neglected by his classmates he wanted to feel apart of experience of the field trip. But not only was it just over lunch that my son made this kid feel accepted. He walked with him during the rest of the field trip.
Over dinner that night, as my wife was telling me this, a tear started to run down my eye. During all of the trials and tribulations as a parent, it was then that I knew I was on the right track and teaching my son that it doesn’t matter who a person is, what is race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, or what have you, they should be accepted for who they are.
Events like what happened in Parkland, Florida hit home with parents. Every morning we drop our kids off, hoping, that we can pick them up that afternoon. In the back of our minds, we hope it isn’t the last time we hear, “I love you dad!” as he drops you off, full well knowing that eventually, he will stop saying it on his at some point.
It Starts With Us (The Parents)
As I hear the stories of the things that my son is doing to be accepting of everyone in his class and school, it starts at home. Tragedies like this can be prevented by teaching our kids that you don’t need to resort to violence to solve your problems. As parents, we can teach our kids that even they are not comfortable talking to us about their issues, they can at least talk to someone about them. We can help show them the people they can talk to when they need the help.
Parents are the starting point for changing the next generation of the world that we live in today.. We can teach our kids to be compassionate and empathetic human beings while standing up for what they believe in and not resorting to actions that will harm others, they can stand by you no matter what you are facing in life. We can set the example for our kids so that they are the ones who start a lunch club in their school, or they buy flowers for all of the girls in their school on Valentine’s Day, or they stop someone from being sexually abused.
While it might seem that we aren’t making any headway with our kids and it can be difficult at times raising them to be the people that we want to be, when you hear the stories about your son sitting with a boy at lunch who was lonely, or the time he stopped a boy from kissing a girl who didn’t want to be, you will realize that it is all the more reason to continue setting the example that you are setting for your kids.
It all starts with us to teach our kids that they too can stand by you.