“I’m so sorry for the mix up. Is there anything else I can get you all?”
The waitress flushed pink and brushed her bangs back from her eyes. She was having a rough night. Mixed up orders, missing french fries and an incorrect final bill. Our group of eight, my sisters’ family and my own, had given her quite the run around as she corrected meals and brought us extra drinks and napkins.
I smiled and thanked her for setting everything straight.
“We appreciate it. Hope you have a great night!”
She blinked and I could see relief wash over her face.
When we were leaving, my six-year-old tugged at my hand. “Mommy, why was she getting everything wrong?”
I took a moment to remind her everyone makes mistakes and that we can extend grace to others. Her job is hard and we can show her kindness. She nodded and chased back after her cousins.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
That brief interaction with an overwhelmed waitress made me think about other times where I have failed to model grace well for my kids. Moments where my words did not match my behavior. The golden rule, “Actions speak louder than words” is something I want to remember in my own life and parenting.
I want my daughter to be patient while we wait in the carpool line.
But I often sigh with impatience when the grocery check out line is long.
I remind my girls to work together to complete household chores.
But I’m quick to bicker with my husband over something small like loading the dishwasher.
I expect my children to show kindness to their classmates.
But I don’t always greet my neighbors when hurrying out the door.
I encourage them to forgive others quickly.
But I grumble under my breath when somebody cuts me off in traffic.
Are my actions and words matching up? Not always. But it’s that check of my own spirit that reminds me where my focus needs to be.
Everyday Acts of Kindness
How can we model everyday acts of kindness for our children?
How can we incorporate our values into our actions today?
This is the hard, day-to-day stuff of life that our children need to see us do. It’s one thing to claim we value patience, goodness and humility. It’s another thing entirely to live out our lives by these beliefs.
What are some actual things I can do to model kindness for my kids?
- Hold the door for a stranger walking in behind me.
- Be kind to waitstaff and service professionals – especially when it’s inconvenient.
- Apologize and seek forgiveness when I’ve been unkind or wrong.
- Perform random acts of generosity, like paying for the Starbucks order in line behind me.
- Turn the other cheek when others are blatantly rude.
- Donate, tithe and support causes important to me.
What would you add for yourself?
Be Kind When It Counts
When something is inconvenient or challenging for us, that’s when our response counts the most. Our kids are looking to see what we do. They are watching our actions and behavior, even if we think they don’t notice. Of course we will falter and fail in our efforts. Convenience, anger or laziness will take precedence. I’ll lose my temper in traffic. Again! But humbling myself, making amends and righting the moral ship also counts. Our children will learn kindness, but also how to be kind to themselves in the process.
Let’s strive to be kind when the stakes are high.
Let’s have our actions mirror our words.
Only then can we ask the same of our kids.