23AndMe Confirms There is NO Genetic Link between Local Threenager and Voldemort
Today’s threenagers are getting a bad rap. Sure, I mean they DO share some characteristics of Voldemort like being controlling, punishing, and overly confident. I guess, yes, their need for power is insatiable. I know they are inconsistent, unreasonable, go against their own self interest, indecisive and then VERY decisive. But, to be fair, I fit this description when I am hangry or when the babysitter cancels last minute. Plus, if threenagers are Voldemort, what does that make me? Voldemort’s mother? No thanks.
Trust me, I am raising a recovering threenager, an emerging threenager and likely aspiring threenager. So, I know why they have the stereotype they do. But, I want you to put the wet wipes down, pick up your venti coffee and consider this… wouldn’t it be interesting if we stopped looking at our preschoolers as a**holes and started looking at them as world changers?
It seems like an eternity ago that I was hauling my babies up to our third floor Chicago greystone. One day we were walking down Fullerton, when my 2 year old got super curious about the neighbors raising money for family back in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria(*PR residents are still suffering, help here). We gave them money and talked about what happened in concrete, relatable language. He still asks about the “big storm and how those people are doing”.
We don’t expect 2, 3, 4 year olds to express too much empathy but they do have the foundations for altruistic behavior and many times exhibit empathy in ways that we don’t notice as adults. Training empathy can start in infancy and evolve as kids get bigger, laying the infrastructure for ethical adults. When asked, parents from around the world reported that they value “caring” over “achievement” in their kids. We send our kids to school, spend hours on homework, use flashcards to learn A,B,C’s. We stress over meeting milestones to gain academic “achievement”. But, what are we doing in our everyday lives that explicitly teach “kindness”, “empathy” beyond pleasantries of manners?
I saw a tiny spark in my toddler and wanted to fan this flame of curiosity for our communities’ needs. We are a white family benefiting from a systematically racist patriarchal society that now lives in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC. Diversity, worldly culture, poverty, homelessness & other social issues are not abundantly obvious in our immediate circle, so how do I keep encouraging an open mind in my kids in tangible ways?
Just like anything in parenting, incorporating these topics is a work in progress and we try to keep the humor and embrace the vulnerability. We are not perfect. We are not tacos. I am studying my own white privilege and practicing antiracism work in myself too. How can I have meaningful conversations with my future adults without addressing these issues in my world? Here is how we try to put the focus on kindness…
Pay attention and initiate conversations about race, the history of racism and inclusion through children’s books written by people of color.
When my kids have questions about people in wheelchairs or other assistive devices, or with skin darker than ours, or eyes different shaped than ours, or using language different than ours, we try not to shhh or ignore, we say- “wow isn’t it great that we are all beautiful in our own unique ways”.
When we don’t know answers, we tell them we don’t know and look for ways to find out.
We try to expand our experiences to include people of all races and abilities as much as we can.
We look for ways to be kind to people and our Earth everyday and take those opportunities with the kids, involve them.
We try to use concrete language that accommodates our kids’ personalities and ages. We try to explain why we have certain habits “lets reuse this box to color instead of buying new paper so we can save trees and help our planet”.
We try to do activities that benefit nonprofits such as giving our toys to others that may need them(ok ok, I know, this sounds like a recipe for disaster but, with practice, can be a really fun activity with wonderful perspective from the littles). It takes a small amount of effort, just attention.
Kind Projects Of Discovery and Service meets you where you are, on the floor picking up half eaten chicken nuggets, and delivers you simple but impactful activities that helps your family bond and learn about social issues while spreading local kindness and directly helping nonprofits around the world. You do the activities on your time, fitting it into your families’ routine. It’s convenient giving and support to integrate awareness and kindness/giving into your family life as easy as you would integrate chores, personal hygiene, teaching the alphabet.
Change starts within our hearts, our homes, our communities, and ripples to our world. Lets join our sticky hands and transform our communities with the smallest of open-hearted messengers. Voldemort would never do that.
CALL TO ACTION: If you see me with a greasy top bun, spit up stained shirt, preschooler over one shoulder, dragging the other while pushing my 9 month old, please remind me to look at them as world changers and not world crushers. Many thanks.
**Photo Cred: USA Today