Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/ Blend Images/ Getty Images
Our girls see how we talk about, treat and interact with our girlfriends and these are the very things that lay the emotional roadmaps for their own friendships. So much of what we do is repeated by our children. What if we used this knowledge to be purposeful in the way we do — and teach — kindness and friendship?
Shannan Ball Younger writes the Tween Us blog on ChicagoNow, a site that explores the world of kids ages 8 to 12, the tween years, and the challenges that come with parenting them because, as she says, the space between playing with trucks and driving them can be difficult for both kids and parents. Younger says, "Tweens may act like they're not listening, but they are, and what they hear about kindness will echo in their heads. Also, at this age actions often speak louder than words, so make every effort to take advantage of opportunities for acts of kindness. Tweens are so very impressionable, and so sensitive, and there's a chance to make sure that they see the good feelings that come with kindness. I also think it is important for moms to model receiving acts of kindness graciously. Expressing to your child how someone's kindness toward you made you feel and having them see you express your gratitude to them, be it in person, writing a thank you note or doing another act of kindness, will make a big impression."
We couldn't agree more, so we asked five women to share how they model kindness and friendship for their daughters.
Lindsey Mead writes about mindfulness in parenting and in life in general at A Design So Vast.
About teaching kindness and friendship, Mead says, "Kindness is one of the most important lessons I want to teach my daughter. She's 11, and I know that what I do matters a lot more than what I say. And I'm hugely conscious of treating everyone that I encounter with respect and generosity, whether that's someone crossing the street, a check-out person at the grocery store or the head of our school. I expect her to do the same and she knows it."
Photo credit: Lindsey Mead
Teaching friendship tip^ Expect — and hold yourself and your daughters accountable for — nothing less than kindness.
Photo credit: Marcelle Soviero
Marcelle Soviero is the editor-in-chief of Brain Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers.
About teaching kindness and friendship, Soviero says, "Things I do just because: I volunteer at hospice and visit houses of people in our area who I know are having a tough time, and deliver groceries to their doorstop anonymously in the wee morning when it is still dark out, so I know no one will see me. 'You can never be too kind' is my personal motto."
Teaching friendship tip^Notice people — how they're feeling, how they're doing, what might brighten their days. Then be that person who acts on these.
Photo credit: Sherri Kuhn
Sherri Kuhn is a wife, mother of two and a freelance writer and blogger at Old Tweener.
About teaching kindness and friendship, Kuhn says, "I have been trying harder lately to make more of an effort with my friendships, especially since I want to model that for my daughter. I still keep in touch with a group of women I have known since junior high school, and this spring we all moved heaven and earth to spend a weekend together. I wanted my daughter to see that the friendships she is building now can last a lifetime — if she takes the time to nurture them."
Teaching friendship tip^ Make time for your girlfriends.
Allison Nazarian is a copywriter, ghostwriter, author and teacher. You can learn more about her professional services, writing seminars and even her someday-will-be-done memoir at AllisonN.com.
About teaching kindness and friendship, Nazarian says, "I know we're supposed to find everything we need from within, but the truth is we all thrive on appreciation from others. I think this is why I go out of my way to thank other people, to call them out for doing something well or great, even if it's a small something. To me, words like, "thank you" or "well done" or just a simple "I noticed that thing you did" go such a long way. So I really try to pass that along to my daughter, showing her just how far a well-timed kind word or sentiment can go. It doesn't have to be big or bold, it just has to be said and heard. Telling someone "I see you" can, literally, change their lives, and as good as it feels to be on the receiving end, it feels even better to be on the giving end."
Photo credit: Allison Nazarian
Teaching friendship tip^ Give out kind words and compliments with wild abandon.
Photo credit: Nicole Morgan
About teaching kindness and friendship, Morgan says, "I tell my tween that friends are our family by choice, and so we look out for them and take the time to nurture our relationships. Lately this comes down to simply listening in their time of need. With many friends going through hardships or turmoil, having empathy sometimes comes down to no more than lending a sympathetic ear and giving of one's time. This is something that I hope she mirrors in the future because it truly rewards both sides."
Teaching friendship tip^ Listen graciously and make sure your girlfriends see that you're there for them.