People think kids must be treated a certain way because "the world is a cruel place" and kids should just learn that from the start of their lives. It's true that the world is a cruel place and my kids will discover this eventually. But I am not the world. I am their mother. I am the one that should show them a haven in a cruel world. I am the one they should be able to come to when they are tired of the cruel world. I should be their safe place, not just an extension of the cruelty they will find when they leave me. *Perhaps the world is a cruel place because we think we need to teach our children that the world is a cruel place.* Perhaps if we instead taught them that the world doesn't have to be cruel, if we send newly-made adults out into the world, having been taught kindness and respect and justice, they will in turn create a world of kindness, respect, and justice.
I think what our world needs is adults who were once children who know first hand what respect means because the adults in their life modeled it every single day. Children learn what they live, and they become the next generation to raise more children who learn what they live and the curse of authoritarian bullies that rule the world, turning it into a cruel place continues. What are we teaching them by our interactions with them? That the biggest and strongest can impose their desires on the weak? That leadership is about oppressing people? That the smaller you are, the less your desires and ideas matter? This is what I see when I look around me, at parents and children. This is the brokenness that will carry on to the next generation if we don't stand against it and show a better way.
I see parents getting patted on the back for making their teen stand in shame on the side of a road, holding a sign that says "I disrespected my dad". It is obvious to me where they learned such disrespect. But, hey, do as I say, not as I do, right? I'm bigger and that's all that matters? That seems to be the most popular parenting method these days. It is no wonder our world is cruel when the ones who are responsible for teaching respect and kindness are teaching shame and hatred instead.
I refuse to perpetuate the brokenness. To show with my life that the Golden Rule only matters if you are not a child. To prove by my actions that only the biggest are due respect. I prefer to teach my children that a person is a person, no matter how small, and that everyone matters. "Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly" begins with me, the mother, the molder-of-lives, the hand that rocks the cradle. It begins with us who, with words and actions, influence the next generation. It begins with how the powerful treat the smallest and weakest. And actions scream louder than our words ever can.