A mom tells the touching story of how her daughter helped a friend through a difficult moment
Kids are a lot wiser than we give them credit for and just listening to them can help us become better people. That’s the lesson one mom learned when her young daughter comforted a friend after a racial slur was directed at her.
Rachel Macy Stafford, a New York Times best selling author of three books including her latest, Only Love Today, is also the voice behind Hands Free Mama. She posted a precious photo of her daughter and her friend at a football game this week on Facebook. The two are 10 and 11 years old and have been friends for three years. They met at a neighborhood lemonade stand. Sure, the image is sweet and adorable, but it isn’t just the photo that is striking a chord.
The relationship Stafford’s daughter has with her friend is pretty inspiring, even to adults. The mom describes how the two are there for each other, in ways both big and small. The small being, opinions on a new pair of glasses or talking about whether to attend basketball camp.
The big being standing up for each other and showing love and support when needed.
“I’ll never forget what my daughter said after her best friend was subjected to a racist comment on the school bus one afternoon,” Stafford recounts.
“I asked her if she was okay,” my child said tearfully. ‘She didn’t say anything, so I just scooted closer.’ Reluctantly, she admitted, ‘I didn’t know what to do, Mama, so I just hurt with her.'”
I hurt with her.
Stafford says those words resonated with her. And she believes there’s a powerful lesson in their simplicity amid all of the hurtful division and hate right now.
“What if we collectively remember, ‘I’ll hurt with you,’ is something we can all do when we don’t know what to do?”
What if we collectively look into the eyes of our brothers and sisters to acknowledge their story and their pain rather than closing our eyes or looking away?”
What if we collectively acknowledged our privileges and blessings would be even greater if shared by our sisters and brothers?”
What if we collectively agree it is not ‘your back’ or ‘my back,’ but ‘our back’ if we are to create a unified and peaceful world for future generations?”
Sounds like utopia, right? It sounds like some fantasy island, but here’s the thing, it’s not. We can make it a reality.
And it starts with us and our kids.
“Remember your children are listening to your words and watching your actions,” Stafford tells Scary Mommy. “Changing the world starts with one kind, loving action towards ONE person.”
Many will say that it’s easier said than done, but simply being present in the moment and noticing an opportunity to be there for someone is huge.
“If you see someone on the street in need, refrain from judging him or her and extend compassion and kindness, however that looks to you,” she says.
People often think that the way to fight racism, bigotry, and sexism is by holding signs in the street and protesting. That’s just one way. Not all action is loud. Loving actions can be quiet, subtle, and embedded in your every-day routines.
So how do you get kids to start thinking and feeling kindness? Beyond just seizing kind opportunities when life presents them, Stafford says her kids also seek out opportunities to extend love too. They volunteer at nursing homes and pet shelters to just sit with whatever human or creature is lonely. And the way she encourages this love of loving in her children is by telling them how happy it makes her.
“When you see your children acting in compassionate ways, tell them how proud that makes you!” she suggests. “If their heart feels called to help a classmate or even a stranger resist the urge to intervene. Let your child live by heart.”
Living with an open heart and embodying empathy like Stafford’s daughter is what the world needs now. You don’t need grand gestures, you just need to open your eyes. Open your mind. Love simply, without restraint and take the opportunity when it comes your way. Just one loving act can literally start a landslide of kindness.
“This is how you change the world … you start with one.”