Being Kind or Being Right, a Parent Dichotomy

I recently read with my Son the Wonder Book by R. J. Palacio. The book is  about a child, Auggie, who has a disfigured face due to the Treacher Collins syndrome. The novel relates Auggie’s challenges to attend school, make friends and fit in society. The magic of the book relies on Auggie’s journey, touching hearts and changing people around him, making him a remarkable human being, a wonder.

Mr. Brown is the English teacher in the book. He provided a precept (principle that guides our thought and behaviors)  for every month. His September precept, and the first one given in the book, was a quote by Dr. Wayne Dryer:


It sounds beautiful. But in reality it is sometimes  hard for a parent. Can you teach a kid by being kind instead of right?

Yesterday, I stumbled open a story (or maybe a fairy tail) of the Babemba (or Bemba) tribe, which I was not aware of. The Babemba tribe is one of  the 72 tribes in Zambia, located in Southern Africa. The story inspires an incredible human way to deal when someone does something harmful.

The person that does something harmful is taking to the center of the village. The whole tribe surrounds him. The tribe members take turn to tell him all the good things he has ever done, how great he is, etc. The tribe believes we all come to do good and that we all look for safety, happiness and love. The tribe helps him raise his human spirit, connect him to who he truly is.

Today we don’t live in magical tribes.  Our houses have fences and we only see each other at neighborhood parties, kids activities, gym or at the pool in summer.  However, I am fully convinced that we can practice raising our kids human spirits even in the worst situations in our modern fast highly-structured world.

I tried to mimic in a way the Bemba tribe, with my small tribe, my three children. If someone does something bad that we don’t like, we very fast forgive and raise his spirit. And we do it by writing notes.

I recently wrote to my son the following letter, after he did something harmful (He hide my computer because I took his phone away). And, as a surprise, I put the letter in Mom’s home mailbox, when he was not with me.

My Dear Son,

I am so thankful to have you as my son. Because you are an incredible human being
You are kind. Yes you are:
When you help your Mom without asking
When you share your cookies with your brother
When you respond with your smile
When you let your friends play first
When you buy candy for your brother
When you help your sister cross from one side to another playing lava
When you don’t ask for soda in a restaurant to help me save money.

God gave you an incredible body, strength, muscles and flexibility. Soccer teams have enjoyed having you, basketball teams have enjoyed having you. I have seeing you doing front flips, not one, not two, but eight times in a row. I have seen you jumping in your bike, climbing a wall like nobody else, and beating me and all the other kids your age in a 5K race.

I see how kids your age want to be with you. I see how they call you. I see how they come to my door asking for you. I see how nice you are with them inviting them to your house, inviting them for dinner, to sleep overs.

I remember when you took one of your friends for a bike ride, even though you know we was not very good. You had patience and you were there to support him. His dad told me once: Your son is a gentleman, he is welcome every time.

Continue being so awesome with your friends, You just need to be you, showing respect and kindness.  You will have as much friends as the starts in the universe.

Every morning and every night before going to sleep, I put my hands in my heart and think about you. I pour you with blue green magic light that goes form my heart to you. I’m sending you my love. I see you shine, in your room, above the house, above Gaithersburg. A bubble of your love, of your light goes around the US, fills the Earth, fills the universe. I get a sense, a tickling,  an incredible sense of Joy.

I love you,

Your Dad

And here is a written note from his sister, She wrote it when she was 6 year old.

This is just a note, a simple note written by a incredible little human being. Written when his brother was being mean to her. A note highlighting and act of kindness of his brother waiting in the hot sun for her.

I think our kids need more hugs instead of punishments. They need more inspiring words, kind words to raise their spirit instead of more rules and behavioral contracts.

When we are anger about a difficult situation we can’t hear or see. We are in this emotional state where we disconnect from our being.  So, let’s try to reconnect raising our spirits. Raising our kids spirits.  Let’s  practice more a  language that can penetrate that barrier and get deeply into our hearts.  As Mark Twain said:

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.





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