A Better World Starts at Home

A Better World Starts at Home

I saw a social media post about women being cat-called when they were walking in the city.  Uber/Lyft drivers have reported picking up riders that only need a 3 or 4 block ride to avoid the harassment. You may think that this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t live in the city and you or your kids would never do that to anyone!

Moms, dads, I have news for you. Peer pressure is alive and well in the country towns as well as the cities. It is called peer pressure because normally polite, “brought up right” kids can be tempted and swayed to be anything but their best selves when they are around friends or crowds that choose to be edgy or downright cruel.

Here is where setting your own Family Values to create your parenting plan comes in. This is the foundation of why I wrote All Done Day: Winning at Everyday Parenting. In our family, we established a family value of believing that other people are to be highly valued. Because that was an important concept, we then incorporated life lessons, like shoveling our elderly neighbor’s driveway whenever it snowed, as an expectation.

I’m convinced that it IS your job as a parent to instill the values you want your kids to embody and hopefully exhibit for the rest of their lives. Could you ever imagine your child growing up being THAT kind of person that would exhibit such disrespectful behavior? Many parents who are interviewed after their child is called out or even arrested for harassing others seem incredulous that their kids would or could act that way.

Nurturing kindness and compassion in your kids needs to start very early. It begins at infancy when mom and dad’s interactions are first experienced. What is the tone of your voice? Is it kind and respectful, or is it sarcastic or condescending? Do your kids see you become angry and yell at other drivers? Do they hear conversations you may have about work colleagues that are less than kind?

How are you teaching your kids to respond to you? Do you allow them to talk back to you-or to either parent? Do you allow them to speak disrespectfully about teachers or administration at school?  Do you ignore bad behavior or are you quick to respond with a firm, non-emotional rebuke? Are you using these “teachable moments” to put them on a better path of behavior?

If you have multiple kids, you will have many opportunities to observe how they behave around others. You can see how quickly they can become exasperated, or how long it takes them to cave to peer pressure. Store this in your memory bank and use that to have meaningful talks about how they respond to outside peer pressure situation

Plan to have conversations to get them thinking ahead. “What do you think you would do if you were with friends and they started harassing someone”? “What do you think it would feel like to be that person who is being harassed?” “What instances of bullying have you experienced personally or instances that have happened to others?” “How did that person – or you, feel?”

Teach your kids to have some coping skills when they are faced with situations of peer pressure. Teach them how to learn to disagree respectfully. Help them know how to be a voice of reason, or to be creative and suggest a different activity for the group they are out with instead of engaging in activities that tear down or even risk breaking the law.

And for ALL your kids, devise an escape strategy if they would be in a situation that seems over their head. Have an agreed upon “code word” that they could text you that they need to end their evening or be called home by you with a “family emergency.” Be okay with being the “bad guy” to rescue your child.

Kids with good self-esteem are more likely to steer clear of negative peer pressure. Do what you can to build them up and encourage them in who they are, their abilities and their potential. Encourage them to be ones that can create “peer influence” for positive outcomes. Always be calling them up to what they can be. Spotlight the truth that many people who can think for themselves have more promising futures.

Do your kids a favor. Help them out in advance to have thought through some situations that they may find themselves in. Help them to be able to be the saner, kinder person in the group. Help them to not have regrets. Help them to make this world a better, kinder place.

I know you have ideas about how to foster kindness – please post in the comment section! And please sign up to be notified of new blog posts as they appear.

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Ann Lahm

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I love the opportunities to support parents and Moms in particular, that All Done Day has provided me.

Ann Lahm

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