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Kindness Counts

After other achievements fade, how we treat others matters most

Kindness Counts
June 2013

I was recently invited to a baby shower where the hostess passed out a 4x6 notecard asking all the guests to write down their best piece of advice for the new mother-to-be. As everyone thoughtfully wrote on their card, I sat their stumped. How was I going to put down all the advice I wanted to share with this new mom? Sleep while you can before the baby comes, don't be too hard on yourself, make sure to take a date night with your husband, don't feel guilty over every little thing...the list went on and on in my head. I had to pick one because I was never going to fit all fifty ideas racing through my mind. I looked down at my blank card and settled on: Laundry will always be there – hold your baby, love on her and don't feel guilty about it. That's it. My 13 years of mothering experience and that was my sound advice. Not my best moment, but in my defense, I had not been to a baby shower in a long time. Perhaps I was just out of practice with giving concise words of wisdom on a small index card!

The hostess happily collected the cards and handed them to the mom-to-be who was asked to share them aloud. As she shuffled through the cards and read the typical snippits of advice (like mine), all of which I agreed with, there was one that stopped me in my tracks. It even caused me to put down my delightful mini hot pink iced cupcake to reflect on it. The last card she read was from her aunt. She was a teacher and had over 30 years of experience not only teaching, but observing children. The card read: "Don't worry about your child making all A's, teach them kindness. I would rather teach a child who is an average student that is kind, than an A student who is not."

I think I had crumbs falling out of my mouth as she read it. I was stunned by the amazing and truthful words she had read aloud. I had advice envy.

It was perfect and exactly what I needed to hear at my own point of motherhood. I hold kindness as a paramount character trait in our home. Other parents may value their children excelling in sports, earning straight A's or "being popular." This is not the case for me and my husband – we expect kindness. Kindness doesn't mean being pushed around or being a doormat for others. To us, it means to worry about your own business, not judge others and be kind to those you encounter.

Now it can be argued that kindness doesn't get you into college. Good grades will – which is true. But there is a balance, and what I heard this seasoned teacher say was that kindness does matter in what type of student your child is now or will be in the future. So consciously teach kindness in your home. Don't assume it will just happen. Make it a priority to talk about this quality and set high expectations for your children to show kindness to others.

Thinking about the subject, I realize I have no clue what kind of grades my doctor, dentist, grocery cashier, bank teller or even my own friends earned in school. I do know, however, if they are kind to me, my family and others.

Indeed, kindness counts.

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Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for Moms and author of "Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity." Visit her Web site at www.Mommy-Magic.com.

Tags: In This Issue, Parenting

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