How do you teach your kids kindness, love and empathy?

When people make mistakes, wrong choices, and are maybe going through a rough time, that is when they need love and support from everyone around them. When others choose to pass judgment on someone for their mistakes and whatever they me be going through, and define them as that, it makes that person feel even more alone and question everything about themselves. Not to mention, it makes it harder for them to keep positive, have love and empathy for those who are judging them. Now imagine if this was your child? What if your child, did something, made some bad choices, and was going through a tough time? What if others, peers and parents decided the choices your child made, defined them as a person, the way everyone would now see them?

How do you teach your child to have kindness, love and empathy for others, when the worlds seems to be turning against them? These are questions that I ask myself daily. It seems that our world has become unforgiving, full of judgment and honestly fear stricken. Is it where you live? The people who live there? I don’t know… I do know that people find it easier to turn against one another than to come together, support, love and uplift.

I could write how great my daughter Pressley is, but really it doesn’t matter what others think or believe. I know who she is, her family does and at the end of the day that is all that matters. But for her, at her age, it effects her whole life with how and what people say and think about her. I understand parents when they hear things about other kids, what trouble they may have gotten in, poor choices they made, I do. What I don’t understand is when parents don’t ever think about how something could or would effect their own child if this happened to them… It is so much easier to say to your child,” you can’t hang out or talk to this person again”, than it is to say, “why don’t you talk to them and see if they need a friend”? This really breaks my heart on so many levels, not just for my girl, but for how people really are not kind, forgiving, and have no empathy for anyone, not even an 11 year old. Believe me, I understand parents want to protect their children from anything and everything, but I would also say, parents need to start educating themselves on what it means to be a loving human. I look at each person I meet everyday and think how they have their own story, their own struggles, I never try to pass judgment on anyone, that is taking the path of fear.

I have no anger for these parents and their kids, I can’t, they are not capable of looking at people as loving beings. I have empathy for them, I have sadness for them, for they don’t know what our life has been like. The struggles, challenges and how hard she works everyday to be happy. If they knew what she has gone through and the work she does everyday to be a better, happier person, they might rethink there thoughts. I am teaching her, this is a short period of time, that this does NOT define her as a person, it is just a bump in her path, a learning lesson that will serve a purpose. She doesn’t fully understand that and I don’t expect her to, but to teach her to love, be kind and have empathy for those who don’t for her, is only going to make her a better, stronger and loving being. The old saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is really a true statement, you miss out on some amazing people by judging them, by listening to others and to not read a few pages.

We all have the choice to be loving, kind and to have empathy, our kids, learn this from us, what are you teaching them?

Nothing defines you, unless you let it.

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What does it mean to be a parent?

I love looking up what the true meaning of words are, as it sometimes takes on a whole new dimension of how I might have thought about the word. Merriam-Webster defines Parent as this: a person who is a father or mother; a person who has a child: an animal or plant that produces a young animal or plant. something out of which another thing has developed. I had to go even farther in this and look up what it means to be a father and a mother. Father: a man who has begotten a child. Mother: a female parent: a woman in authority: maternal tenderness or affection. I have to say, these definitions, seem a little cold, no real terminology of how it truly feels to be a parent, but that brings me to my point, everyone looks at being a parent differently. I think about growing up and my own parents, how I viewed them and how they parented me. My dad was the strict one, the enforcer if you want say, while my mom was the one who was the more loving, affection one. Probably pretty typical of parenting back then and how their parents where as well. The thing is I knew when I was little that I wanted to be a different kind of parent, not because I got into trouble all the time, but that they never heard me, listened to me, or really thought of me as a human being. Might sound weird, of course they knew I was alive, but they didn’t have the capability of seeing me as an individual, who had thoughts, feelings, and that I was going to grow up into an adult and be my own person one day. I know that is why we had so many problems when I was younger, as I wanted to be heard, I wanted to be acknowledged as a person, I wanted to be able to talk to them about so many things, but that never was to happen until I was in my adulthood. I think life could have been so different, I believe for the better, if they could have been opened to being different parents. I know if they were still alive they would actually agree with me, my dad for sure as he did become my best friend and at the end we had the relationship I had always wanted.

I know many parents believe you can’t be your kids friends, that you are this “holy person” or you are older and that makes you wiser. Why is that? Who taught you that and why do you believe that? I look at being a mom as the biggest blessing that I could have ever been given. Each 9 months, was a gift even though it was hard and you gave up so much of yourself, but the end result was this beautiful being. I knew I was going to have this bond with each of my children, that they would always have someone to talk to about anything, that I would be “their friend”, their supporter, guide, and the ONE person who would always be there no matter what. Today, more than ever I am grateful for making this choice, for being the different parent, one that does get judged because I am their friend. I really laugh at how some think, that means there are no rules, no guidance, and that my house is a free for all, but in reality, I don’t care, because only me and my kids know how we live, what we do and at the end of the day, that is all that really matters. For my girls especially this has been vital for them, for me to be a real human to them, not just their mom. To let them speak, feel and have no fear to talk to me. I can’t imagine how life would be IF I didn’t want it this way, how they would have dealt with all they have had to alone. Human beings want to feel accepted, loved, have their thoughts heard, emotions met, and feel they have a voice. I know some think that when they are 18, they are an adult and that is when they can be their friend, like that is when you stop being a parent? What about all you missed up to that point? How do you just expect anyone to open up, share feelings, all the things that friends are and do? I am not here to say I am a perfect person, parent or that this is the way you should parent. I am here to make you think, evaluate, and maybe question why you parent the way you do. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Today in Minnesota it was 47 degrees! So I said let’s go tubing! Mason’s girlfriend Bella came with, just us girls 🙂

My mini me, who is not so mini anymore.

I would not want to spend my time with anyone else in this world, my kids, are the best people. They have learned to be around the people who bring out the best in them, bring them good energy, make them better people and challenge them to grow and learn. I am beyond blessed that we do this for each other.

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Phones+Social Media+”Friends”=no good…

I think I have learned more in this last week and a half than I have in a long time.  There have been great days and some not so great days.  Yesterday was a not so great day, but I would like to go back for a moment to tell you about our night Friday November 2, 2018.  Because that is when our world changed and most importantly my baby girl Pressley’s.

Obviously learning what we did that night, about her sadness, not wanting to be here on earth was for sure the most heartbreaking thing I have been through as a parent.  But honestly what else we discovered has changed me in so many ways and I feel it needs to be addressed, that this is a HUGE problem in our world today.  I had Leighton that night go through her phone, as I knew she was faster and would know what to look for…  I honestly did not know you could have your own private snap story, one that I could not see unless she added me on there.  Yes, as a parent we should know this, we should know all the ins and outs of all the apps our kids are on, but I guess, I really never thought she would be apart of anything that would or could be damaging.  I really believed she knew right from wrong, but reality is peer pressure is a BIG problem for these young kids, more than when I was growing up.   So that night I also learned there is a private part of SnapChat, called My Eyes Only.  We had to have Press give us the pass code for this and honestly I did NOT like what I saw.  The very first picture that was on the screen was one of her arm from hours earlier when she was home alone, before I even got home from work.  She had taken a pair of scissors and was trying to cut her arm…  I know it was for the reason she was caught doing something she should NOT have been doing, but when you throw in what she had been feeling for awhile, it just made it that much harder to take.  There was a message from one of her “friends” and it said “Pressley go kill yourself”.  I literally had all I could do to contain myself, I am a calm person, but this…  This made me so very angry, yet it showed me I was right in my knowing that these “friends” were NOT friends at all, they are actually just lost souls, who do not have a group of people in their lives who are there for them, to teach them, to maybe even love them.?  There were messages from a few boys, one telling her to get her football pads on as he was threatening to hurt her.  These are 11-12 year old kids, this is NOT ok!!!  Where are the parents???  Another boy also telling her to kill herself, a few others calling her names, slut, hoe, etc…  I honestly could see how my girl didn’t want to be here anymore, that being in an environment like this could be so incredibly harmful.   I honestly bet more than half the people she has on SnapChat and Instagram are people she has never even met.  But, to be cool, popular, you just add people, accept requests, because the numbers show how popular you are.  This has become a sad world, one that teaches our young kids the power of social media, but not in positive ways.  I think back to early September where her phone was used for creating posts about her favorite Youtuber, Adelaine Morin who I might add uses the slogan “Girls supporting Girls”, something I love and feel this world needs more of.  So if you want to say I am naive in thinking she would NOT go down a path that she did, yes I guess I was, but I do know I knew all along the way things were going wrong, that I listened to what my heart and soul was telling me.  I just didn’t think all that came about would be all of this…

You may be asking if I have gone to the school, since this is bullying and other things that happened which would be grounds for maybe suspension or other penalties.  Yes, me and my ex were going to go…  But I guess we decided for now that we would take matters into our own hands and for me all I cared about was getting my girl back to being herself.  Last night, I texted her as she was at her dads and I asked her how school was, like I do everyday.  Usually I get it was fine, or good, but last night she said “meh, it was school”.  I knew right than something had happened.  I had told her after that Friday night to promise me IF anyone said or did anything to her, so obviously I was worried that was the case.  What did happen yesterday was her seeing these “friends” in a whole new light.  That their lives were just going on as normal, planning a big sleepover with all the people she was hanging out with, while she sits alone, with NO phone and has yet to be with anyone outside of school on the weekends.  She was sad, hurt and angry, all valid feelings for this age on how to deal with all of this.   This morning I had Leighton look at her phone and there was a snap from one of her “friends” it said “Back away from Hallie”.  I instantly had Leight FaceTime Press, to find out what that meant.  She started crying and said I do NOT want to go to school today or ever again.  I then got on and said “Have you said anything bad about her, or why would this other person threaten you?  She said, MOM, I didn’t I promise.  Leight said to me, mom I can’t see Press actually speaking her mind to a friend, that the phone was a place where all of these girls felt free and unafraid to say things that they would NOT say in person.  I believe her, because even though she lost all of my trust with what occurred, I knew my girl. Needless to say, she is home today with me.  I told her it is a mental day. 🙂   I have to say this, my son and daughter have been nothing short of amazing people during this process!!!  They have made me more proud than I have ever thought possible.  They have shown up, been there for her, showing her just how much they truly love and support her.  That is all a mom could ever hope and dream of.  Also, Leighton did text one of those boys a week ago and pretty much said if you ever say another word to my sister, your parents and the school will find out.  Yes, maybe a threat, but it wasn’t a harmful threat, she wasn’t saying she was going to go and beat him up…  She also texted this “friend” back this morning and said ” I would like you to take a look around at who you surround yourself with”, thank God I have a mini mom, who will also do anything for her little sister.

I know this has gotten long and I always try to keep things shorter and to the point, but I just am to passionate about this subject.  I do believe schools need to do more, not allow phones in class, this is just astounding to me that they do.  Parents need to be INVOLVED in their kids phones!!!  Even if your kid isn’t being bullied, what if it is YOUR kid being the bully?   Either one is not one anyone would wish for.  I do believe it all starts at home.  I believe phones should be a privilege for kids, not a material thing.  I honestly do not know when Press will get hers back…  She has been asking and I simply say I do not know.  I would love for her to never have it again, but I know that is not being realistic.  I do know when she does get it back it will be limited and starting with NO social media.  Some time I will allow it again, but that will be when I know she has surrounded herself with good people, when she is a stronger person to stand up and be true to who she is.  This past week and a half have given her many life lessons, I do know this all happened for reason, it sucks, but honestly I know it will just make her stronger, better and a much more loving person.  Our kids grow up too fast as it is, social media and peer pressure just accelerate this to faster speeds.  I challenge all parents to start breaking the speed, to get more involved in their lives, to know what and who is on their phones.  Isn’t it scarier to NOT know?  Than to know???

Somedays we wish they could be little again…
Where life was easier and simpler…
But we need to look at who they are NOW…
And love them for that.  Knowing they need us still, more than we even know…

Thank you to all who have texted, sent messages and reached out during the last week and a half.  It has meant SO very much to me, knowing I have so much love and support!!!

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