We are honored to share this guest post today from Richmond mom, Kerin Morgan.
May I touch on the discussions and questions surrounding the topics of hate and love? May I touch on the causes of such topics that bring about divisions and violence? May I challenge the status quo and simply state what to so many is not obvious?
To begin, let me ask:
Are we really only taught to hate or taught to love?
Are those opposing words of “hate” and “love” only emotions or only actions or are they the combination of both?
In a society that has in recent weeks seen the beauty of man’s ability to live in unity brought about by devastating storms in Houston and Florida and the Caribbean be exhibited along man’s sad propensity for division seen in Charlottesville and countless other crimes against fellow man that are seen in the daily news—is there any solution? Can we as mothers of the future generation actually influence our children in a way that they would only learn to love and not hate?
As a young mom, I was taught that our children have a conscious that is a clean slate and we write the values upon them. “Right is right even if no one is doing it and wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” was a quote we drilled into our children to have the courage to say no to the flow of the crowd and to stand up for their conviction or stand up for the mistreated underdog or make friends with the friendless or embrace those of different ethnicity and color.
But those same children would fight over a toothbrush or a sound that another was making or sharing a Lego they both wanted. At the very core of their human nature was not love as some would like to believe. Love is more than an emotion; it is a choice to put others first and that denies itself and chooses someone else as more important and valuable than themselves.
This is not our human nature.
Any mom of a baby or toddler sees all too soon that baby is interested in one thing—THEMSELVES—and their desires and wants. To train our children in manners is to teach them that others count and others’ feelings matter so we treat them with respect and honor and dignity. I believe most moms are aware of training their children to be kind. But if we have no reason why and we then indulge in their wants and desires and even demands, are we not contradicting ourselves? We mean well but fail to see the confusion we cause them.
The sad reality is that we often unintentionally train our kids in our areas of weakness or neglect without even realizing it. And the only real antidote to that is for us to choose to have tremendous self-awareness!
If I’m really a student of how well I train them in love, I see all too often my habits that are self-focused:
- I neglect them for a phone call or a few extra minutes on the computer.
- I tell a white lie about how I spend some money or my time.
- I talk about someone in a slanderous way.
- I put someone else down to put me up.
- I look in the mirror either to admire what I see or more often to wish what I saw was different.
- I compare myself to others on the outside.
- I get jealous of another.
- I fail to yield to another driver because I’m in a hurry or to be patient in the line at a grocery store because my time is more valuable than another’s.
And the list could go on, couldn’t it? It’s said that more is caught than taught, and I cannot help but remember all that my kids “caught” because of what they saw me do or heard me say to others…including some of them or their dad! UGH!!!
I am glad that perfection is not required to parent and raise these little ones to adulthood. I’m glad that there are things we can do to help train our children to love and be aware of how easy it is to demonstrate the opposite.
I am glad that there’s much we can do to benefit them:
- Our children will benefit from us being transparent—and let them see into our souls and hearts in appropriate ways.
- Our children will benefit from moms that are self-aware and honest with their weaknesses or blind spots and admit our faults!
- Our children will benefit more from our humble apologies and acknowledgment of messing up more than in all our wise words.
- Our children will benefit from our desire to grow and be better than we used to be and treat others around us with more compassion and more patience and more respect.
- Our children will benefit from us knowing ourselves, our strengths, and our weaknesses and admitting that we cannot do all things well all of the time.
- Our children will benefit from us talking about the world and the great need it has to choose love and respect.
- Our children will benefit from hearing stories and reading books that show respect for all men of all races and classes.
- Our children will benefit from seeing love in actions as we love those different than us—those we may not normally choose to spend time with.
- Our children will benefit from us talking about the reality of our roots and our heritage—of how everyone’s perspective is not the same but all are worthy of respect and trying to understand their perspective—even those different than us.
- Our children will learn that love and hate are much greater than emotions and that we can, though with limitations, learn to love actively even if never perfectly and completely.
Try as we might, we will all come short.
We must admit that in our efforts, we will still consider ourselves as more important all too often. That is a reality. And though we may not like to make that synonymous with “hate,” we all too often show the opposite of love when we consider our ways, our thoughts, our ideas, ourselves as more important than others.
May we all work to be aware of the need to walk humbly when our not so lovely side shows and let our children see that though the struggle to love is real, the effort is worth a lifetime of investment!
The hate in our hearts will always have a desire to come out. But as we walk humbly and justly and love mercy, we will overcome it with love and with honoring others…especially those least like us.