It’s the question that guides most of my parenting decisions: Am I teaching my kids to be kind? I don’t want them to be doormats or people who bend to the will of others even when it’s dangerous or unhealthy. But I do hope they find a good balance in life and lead with kindness whenever it’s possible.
The truth is, I have to do my best and then hope for the best, because I may never really know. They spend all day in school and evenings in various activities that don’t include me. Are they the ones who are shaping the school into a loving, inclusive environment or are they the bullies?
I can take an educated guess, but sometimes it’s just nice to know. Knowing often comes because other people are kind enough to tell me about the good they see in my children.
Fellow mom, Angela Marks, got a glimpse into her son’s behavior thanks to an attentive librarian and a free pizza. Here’s her story:
“One day after football practice, my son, Ryan, was walking past the junior high soccer game happening on a neighboring field. He ran into his high school baseball coach and they stopped to catch up for a bit.
While they were talking, a girl who has some mental challenges was yelling for him to come talk to her in the concession stand. He excused himself from the conversation with his coach to go and talk to the girl.
She was fascinated with his football jersey and wanted to see it and touch it. Ryan was happy to oblige. After several minutes, he left to go change.
It just so happens that the school librarian was also in the concession stand. She was really impressed with the way Ryan handled the situation. In fact, she was so in awe of what he did for the girl, because it made the girl so happy, that she told the vice principal at the high school about his actions.
The vice principal was also moved by Ryan’s choice to give a few moments to the girl. He brought him into his office and thanked him for what he had done and gave him a certificate for a free pizza. Ryan was a little confused by all the fuss and told the vice principal that stopping to talk to the girl was just the right thing to do. The vice principal explained to Ryan that oftentimes, people fail to do the right thing, even when they know they should. In fact, he told Ryan he was so impressed that if he had a million dollars to give away, he’d give it to him, but since he didn’t, the free pizza would have to do.”
The kindness in this story isn’t limited to Ryan. I see it in the coach who stopped to talk with a kid who loves baseball; the girl who made the football player feel noticed; the librarian who passed along what she saw; and the vice principal who took time to reward the good. I also see it in the mom who shared this special story.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.