For Purpose Kids- it's time to make teaching kindness a priority

What does she need to hear from me today? Confessions from an overloaded Mama...

A recent social media marketing expert I was working with (hi Jenna!) told me to think about this question when coming up with my social media content for the week:

What does she need to hear from me today?

(“She” because “she” is my target demographic…but it could be a he or a they too- I want to be inclusive of everyone who may need to hear from me.)

Honestly…I’m not really sure anymore. 

But, today I felt the need to share in a raw, unscripted and honest way.  Because, if you’re feeling like me, it’s all feeling like too much.  And when things are “too much”, we shut down, or at least I do.  And we can’t do that…because we have our kids to think about.

I decided today, in the shower (that I just took at 2pm today after staring at my computer doing mindless work all day) that I was going to post this image on my IG & Facebook every time there was another mass shooting in the US:

For Purpose Kids- it's time for us to make teaching kindness and tolerance a priority

I originally posted this on November 8, 2018, after waking up to the news of another mass shooting.  And you know what the worst part is…I couldn’t even remember which shooting it was when I looked on my Instagram today.

Do you remember which one it was? 

It was the mass shooting at a country- western bar in Thousand Oaks, CA where 13 people were killed.  It’s not your fault if you don’t remember- they’re hard to keep track of, because there are so many.  But I guarantee you EVERY SINGLE PERSON who knew someone that was killed or was in that bar on November 7 will always remember that day.

Please understand, I’m not trying to call you out for not remembering…I’m calling all of us out, myself included.  It’s human nature to not catalogue events like this that don’t impact us directly as a way of survival- I get it.  But that’s part of the problem we’re facing right now- all of these “things” that are happening don’t seemingly affect “us”.  And who is “us” anyway?  I don’t know the answer to that anymore either, but I’d like to believe it is the collective “we”.

What I do know, however, is that what ARE doing isn’t working anymore- and hasn’t worked for a very long time. 

Many people have known this for a lot longer than I have and I know I’m pretty late to the conversation- but I’m here now and I’m digging in.

Don’t worry- this isn’t going to be a post about gun control (although I’m ALL for it) and I’m not going to “get political” either, because I think we’re way past that. 

But it is going to get real…are you ready?

I started For Purpose Kids because I wanted to inspire kids to be kind and help others…because I saw a lot of kids and families that either weren’t doing that or were oblivious to the things in the world that didn’t affect them.  Now, understand that this included me and my family as well.  I wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose sight of what was really important and being kind & doing good has always been important in my life (although I’ve often fallen short) and I wanted to start teaching my son these things as early as possible.

But, “here’s the thing (“as my hero Brené Brown would say), I think things are getting worse, not better.  And you know why?  Well, I don’t really know the real answer, but I’m going to share with you what I think. 

No one knows what to do anymore.  There’s too much.

There’s too much and we just shut down.  When I saw the news about the shooting yesterday I wanted to do something- but I didn’t know what to do.  And I realized I’ve started to feel that way about a lot of things I see in the news and in my life.

I’ve started gathering all of this data and quotes and information to share with you about just how much we are shutting down (and funny enough, in the midst of all of this gathering- I’ve shut down and haven’t been sharing it with you, because there’s too much).

But here’s a start.  I received an email from the ACLU this week that shared the following (full report here):

“We surveyed 2,776 K-12 educators who reported witnessing 3,265 incidents of hate or bias in their school in the fall of 2018 alone.

Most of the incidents witnessed by educators were not addressed by school leaders. No one was disciplined in 57 percent of them. And nine times out of 10, administrators failed to denounce the bias or reaffirm school values.”

The administrators don't know what to do (or it seems like "too much"), so they don’t do anything.

And as parents, we’re no different. 

We say we know what we feel is important to teach our kids, but we don’t follow through on actually doing it.  Our friends at Doing Good Together wrote about this in a recent article:

Research finds kids are not seeing compassion and caring as priorities for the adults in their lives. In a fascinating study released by Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, researchers found that most children in middle school and high school value personal success (achievement and happiness) over concern for others, and they say their parents and teachers do, too. The study calls this a rhetoric/reality gap – "a gap between what parents and other adults say are their top priorities and the real messages they convey in their behavior day to day."

I also see this with For Purpose Kids…

...almost every person I talk to about our mission LOVES what we’re doing, loves our Toolkits and thinks it’s SO important- for other people.  And what I’ve started to deduce, is that they think they’re already doing enough.  They’re already teaching their kids to be kind and do good…and they don’t think they have any more to do, so they have no need for our boxes.  Or…they shut down because they don’t know where to start and it all seems like “too much”.

Does it sound like I’m whining here about not “selling” enough (or committing entrepreneurial suicide)?  Perhaps…but I’ve talked to two people in the past week who have estimated that our sales are about 10 times what they actually are.  And why is that?  Is it because our boxes are too expensive?  Are not addressing enough of a pain point directly?  Are they not “fun” or “educational” enough? 

Maybe.  But honestly, I think it’s because most people agree that this is a much- needed product so it must be doing well in the marketplace- but they don’t think they need to teach their kids to be nice- because they already are.  And the research above kinda supports that. 

But someone’s kids are saying hateful things- so how are you sure it’s not yours?  I'm not.

I know my son is only in daycare right now, but I feel pretty confident in saying that while he DOES have a kind and loving heart at times (and hopefully one I can continue to nurture)…he’s a bit of a jerk too.  I’m comfortable enough with myself and my shortcomings as a parent to say that- and because I’ve done a lot of therapy in my life I’m willing to own my side of the street. 

But while I’m honest about my son being a bit challenging with his behavior right now, I don’t sit back and say “boys will be boys” or “it’s just a phase, he’ll grow out of it”.  Instead, I talk to him every day about the importance of being kind, of doing things for others, as well as for himself.  And once he learns all of these things and they become second nature, I’ll start teaching him how to speak up for others and speak out when someone else is being unkind- because it’s no longer enough to just be kind ourselves, we must teach our community how to do it as well.

I wish I had a “5 Simple Things” list to give you to wrap this up today, but I think the whole point of this “unscripted” blog post was to share with you my feelings of “too much” too (and apologies if it’s a bit all over the place- I’m still learning how to put “too much” in my head down on paper). 

Sometimes it’s OK to speak up and acknowledge the “too much” and then rest for a while before jumping into action.  So if you’re feeling “too much” today too, perhaps just give yourself a break and know that by “shutting down” today, maybe you’ll save some much needed energy to show up tomorrow.

Comments

Misty Castaneda

So incredibly well written Misty. I feel your frustration and completely understand your point of view!

Xx

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