What is the most important thing I want to teach my children?

As a parent there are things I hope to teach my children, faith, patience, love, understanding, empathy, independence, the importance of a dollar, work ethic, communication, coping mechanisms, MATH, the list goes on and on. Yet as I sit considering the posed question there is not much to consider and only one obvious answer in my heart, and that is kindness.

In a world of incredulous pain and evil there are so many things to be fearful of, there is so much bad going on around us. I find myself constantly battling the timeline of when, and to what degree, is appropriate to share, so that they hear things from us first. Part of me wonders if the world in which we live is getting worse or if the access to information is inflating our fear. In short, do we simply know too much? Bad things have always happened in their own right all over the world. Evil has always been present, increased technology and immediate access is what the change is. Sure, the types of things occurring are unfathomable and certainly haven’t always been going on, but decades ago it was something different that was unimaginable that our generation cannot relate to. Regardless of then or now, there is one consistency, evil, and in my opinion, it can truly only be combatted with one weapon, kindness.

The argument, and I can hear it from my own father now, is that the “fluff” of kindness will not protect them. I disagree. I believe we can teach children to be kind but still be strong. To act before reacting. And understanding the balance of tact, appropriateness and timing, all very valuable tools for growth and survival in an increasingly scary world. This is the profound change that will make a difference, perhaps not across continents but maybe into lesson two, never underestimate the power of the person.

For me, I feel strongly that if we (Brent and I) are able to instill in our children the true act of kindness from the heart, everything else (empathy, understanding, communication, etc.) will follow suit. If they can learn to seek to understand out of kindness for those around them first, this will help to measure reaction. If they can learn to contribute from the heart before any other modality (money, pride, emotion, etc.) they will have an impact on this world that is one of change. It may not contribute across continents in their lifetime but their footprint will be one of the heart.