Yesterday my boy’s school had a ‘soft lockdown’ that resulted in an early dismissal. A soft lockdown is when a threat is made, but it is not specific or immediate, so they have the students ‘shelter in place’ in their classrooms and education is supposed to continue.
I hate that I know all these terms, and even more so that my kids live them out.
This was the second soft lockdown in less than a week.
In my frustration, after I knew all the kids were safe, I posted this on Facebook:
This is getting out of hand. Another shelter in place at my boys school. We need to do better by our kids. Parents need to step up and parent and love their kids. The solution for gun violence begins first with Jesus and secondly in the home.
I had a number of friends agree with my sentiments. I got a few ‘amens’.
But one friend challenged me by asking, “The problem is some of these kids don’t have upstanding parents, so what can you do in your community to help?”
Both the truth of this statement that some of these kids don’t have support and the challenge to do something shook me. Challenged something deep inside me.
I can make efforts with my own kids, even with their friends, but how do I impact my community?
God kept bringing this challenge to my mind over and over yesterday.
And in typical perfectionistic fashion, I had thoughts ranging from ‘I can’t do anything in my community’ to ‘who I am to think I can impact my community?’ to ‘maybe I can start a movement, a foundation, a non-profit’. Yes for perfectionists like me, it’s typically all or nothing thinking.
But as I was taking a shower last night, God sent the most beautiful thought to me.
I can impact my community in my home, and you can too.
After the Parkland shooting, I saw a post shared many times on Facebook (that I now realize originated on Twitter) that has now been shared many times. It is known as #WhatsYour17.
And as amazing as this idea is, I think in the long run, it just might not stick with kids. Are they really going to make the effort to interact with 17 people they might not normally? Am I?
In thinking about what it really would look like to encourage this, I remembered a dinner tradition that we used to have, and sadly, have gotten out of the habit of doing.
At dinner each night we used to ask our boys about the best and worst parts of their day. And months later, I read about asking your children every day about one kind thing they did for someone else that day.
Yes, that is it!
What if each of us asked our children at the dinner table each night what was one thing they did that was kind for someone else?
How will this help stop school shootings?
By showing our children that kindness to others matter, they will start to notice kindness. Help them open their eyes to the opportunities around them to show kindness to others. Show them that kindness matters to us, their biggest influencers. And in their noticing, many of them will begin to instinclitely begin to show kindness to others. Maybe not at first, but in time, their hearts wil begin to change, and even if that means one child does one act of kindness for someone one time in their life, can you imagine how much kindness would be spread?
Will asking this question at the dinner table immediately stop school shootings? Maybe, but probably not. Let’s just be a little realistic.
As time goes on and this practice is part of our daily routines, we can take this a step further and ask our children what stranger they showed kindness to. This is where I believe we really are going to change our communities.
I believe that my encouraging our children to show kindness to others, espcially someone they don’t know, we can change our communities, our families, our schools.
Will you join me?