Have you seen the news lately? People are mad. People are angry. Trust me; I get it, I can understand why people are so upset, scared, and riddled with uncertainty. We live in different times, and the world feels different. In my lifetime I can’t recall a more divisive feeling in our country.
When I watch what happens on the news or scroll through social media, I tend to see the same thing: angry people yelling at each other.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that for my kids. This year, for our family mantra we’ve decided to keep it simple: Just be nice.
That’s it; nothing profound, nothing complex. Our family mantra is a simple idea that I’m hoping will change their world.
Just. Be. Nice.
I want them to be nice to each other. I want them to be nice to Karen and me. I want them to be nice to their friends. And I pray they are nice to their enemies.
When did it happen that we can’t disagree with civility anymore? I’ll be honest, I have a ton of friends I don’t agree with – and that is okay! Actually, I think it makes life fun!
Here is the catch in this whole family mantra idea: My kids will only be nice if I show them the way. A friend of mine used to say, “More is caught, than taught.” The message being that our children will learn far more by watching us, than just repeating a cute saying.
What does that mean? Well, if you want to raise nice children, YOU are going to have to be nice.
I have put together five tips on how to be nice in the world we live in (and these are as much for me as they are for you):
1. Speak with respect to everyone. Be polite. Remember that regardless of what someone believes about the government there is no reason to use words that attack them personally. I have yet to see a reason why dropping an “F-Bomb” in someone’s direction will help an argument.
2. Discussions on social media are rarely productive, so you should conduct these with extreme caution. In my experience, trying to change someone on Facebook is about as effective as trying to bring someone to Jesus by waving the Bible in their face. I’ve just never seen it work. Maybe it does, but more often than not it just upsets us personally.
3. Disagree peacefully. It is okay to disagree. Everyone say it with me, “It is okay to disagree.” It is even okay to protest, but do it in a way that would promote peace rather than hate.
4. Ask more questions than you give answers. Questions open up our minds to someone else’s perspective. What a tremendous gift we could give someone! And imagine what would happen if our children saw us listening. (Maybe it would rub off!!!)
5. Pray. Specifically, pray for the people you disagree with on a regular basis. Don’t just pray that they see your side of the argument, pray that the two of you can be closer together. Pray that they are protected in uncertain times. Pray for them as a human being.
One final thought I’d like to share as a disclaimer of sorts. Being nice won’t solve injustice. Being nice won’t stop people from marginalizing people. Being nice won’t stop bad people from doing bad things. I understand all of that. I know that people need to disagree, that people need to protest, that people need to stand up for what they believe in. I just want my kids to understand that even if they passionately disagree, they can always be nice.