Our families need us to show them kindness, and the holiday season is the perfect time to put the kindness ball into motion if we previously have not been doing so—or put it more into motion if we’ve already gotten it rolling, be it ever so slowly. Kindness doesn’t mean that we let our kids “get away” with stuff that we really need to hold them accountable for. It means that we are gentle with them and understanding of them even while we may be holding them accountable for things. Kindness doesn’t mean that we give them everything they want whenever they want it. It means that we display empathy towards them when we have to say no and that we try to come up with reasonable compromises as appropriate. Kindness doesn’t mean that we’re cheery all the time (though it’s not a bad way to be if we genuinely are cheery). It means that we exercise patience and self-control at all times, including when we are having dumpy days.
A really cool effect of getting into the habit of being kind (especially at Christmastime) is that it makes us happy as well as those to whom we are showing kindness. Of course it doesn’t have to start and end at home, but sometimes we can get so carried away with being kind to “others” that we kind of forget to include our own family in the kindness campaign during the holidays. Also, it’s important to remember to include ourselves on the list of those we are actively showing kindness to. When we make mistakes, we don’t have to respond harshly to ourselves. We can forgive and move on. When things don’t go our way, we don’t have to despair or beat ourselves up over the part we might have played in our disappointment. We can choose to look at the bright side of things and learn to understand that sometimes things are the way that they are. Mishaps happen to everybody, and when they happen to us, we can pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and keep going. It’s good to learn lessons, too. But we are already the type of people who learn lessons from every part of our day. Sometimes what we need is just to pat ourselves on the back for getting through (or at least trying to get through) each day the way we choose to—even if nothing goes exactly the way we want it. Embodying kindness means that we extend the courtesy of a pleasant interaction with ourselves and not just keep it limited to “others.”
We all know that there’s going to be something that happens related to our children being children that will present itself as a trigger for a meltdown (ours!), and we can view this as an opportunity to choose a better way. Meltdowns are left-over response mechanisms from childhood (which is okay, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything about them to help ourselves out)—and if we are serious about growing up and becoming an adult inside and out, we will need to take a good look at what is possibly triggering our meltdowns. Kindness goes a long way in this process of self-evaluation, and we will find that the more we show it to ourselves, the more we are able to show it to others (including our family)—and the more we show it to others, the more we are able to show it to ourselves. It’s a neat cycle. Kindness is truly an important key to having a happy holiday and a happy life in general.