“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless”
~L. R. Knost
I saw this quote as a meme on Facebook about a week ago and it really struck me. I think parents are always walking a fine line of how to best prepare our children for the future. We want them to be “tough” enough to handle whatever comes their way, but we also want them to be good people.
When my son was really little, like many other boys his age, he loved to play loud. There was squealing, funny noises, and silly faces. As he reached school age, I told him that there was a time and place for those extra sounds, and if he kept doing some of those noises, other kids would think he was weird. As I write this, I feel like maybe I was too blunt with him, but he responded. As a teacher, I have seen many kids get teased for acting differently, and I didn’t want him to face that one day.
Along with trying to toughen him to face the cruel, heartless world, I also taught him to be kind to others. When he would come home and complain about a child acting “odd” at school, I told him to be patient. I told him to accept his peer for who he was. I told him to find something nice to say about that child. I told him to try to be that child’s friend. After awhile, I did not have to repeat these lessons with him.
I taught my daughter in a similar way too, although she did not make as many funny noises or strange faces. She, however, did sometimes complain about other children and I gave her the same speech I gave her brother.
My children are so much nicer than my husband and I, and, frankly, we are pretty nice people ourselves. However, my kids are two of the best people I have ever been around. They are strong and confident. They care what people whom they respect think about them, but don’t worry about others. Most of all, I think they understand what it means to not be cruel and heartless. Both of them are quick to defend the person who needs defending, especially if they think that person cannot help him/herself.
Somehow, I feel like we have prepared our children to face the cruelties of the world and to try to make it better at the same time…