Parenting On the Edge of the Echo Chamber

A couple of weeks ago, I spent my afternoon stewing in my thoughts and on my drive home, I concocted a long thinkpiece that I didn’t get written down before I forgot it. I didn’t turn on the TV for any of the big events that day. I told myself I’d stay off social media, but that didn’t go so well. But what I did do was take my kids for ice cream, snuggle a newborn baby, read books, and watch an entire movie with all three of my kids in my arms. The next day and in the days since, I read, and wrote, and I hoped to figure out my place in, well, all of this. I still haven’t. I know that I will stumble. I know that I will make mistakes. I will learn from all of them. I will hope for the best but prepare for anything. I will remember that there is so much good in this place we call home even when it feels like the opposite, today and every day.

I reminded my kids that it’s our job to be kind and treat everyone with dignity, no matter what they look like, what they believe, and even if we don’t like them. I reminded them that respect has to be earned, but they must be respectful at all times. I told them that sometimes people are sad or mean because something else is troubling them and we need to be good listeners; both to see if we can understand their point of view and to see if we can help fix what’s making them hurt. I reminded them that they are important, smart, and capable of thinking for themselves, but they are expected to follow rules and they are no better than anyone else. I told them that everyone makes mistakes (and sometimes bad decisions), and it’s important to ask forgiveness and try to do better next time. I urged them to learn how to have real and meaningful conversations. I told them that it’s important to admit when you’re wrong, not to gloat when you’re right, and that it’s crazy hard to do both of those things. I told them that it was ok to feel sad and express their feelings. I told them that it’s our job to take care of our earth and water and sky and everything that lives in it.

Truth be told, lately I’ve been having a really hard time following my own guidelines and I have to stop myself from continuously venting to the social media echo chamber. I don’t really know how to reconcile a lot of my feelings. In the meantime, I’m defaulting to trying to raise happy, kind, and thoughtful kids. I think that’s what most people want. 

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