Why can't kids just get along?

My kids will some times ask me “Dad, why is there war in the world?  Why can’t people just get along?”  In response I say, “Why do you fight with your brother?  Why can’t you just get along?  If you can’t along with your brother whom you love and know personally, how can you expect strangers whose families and cultures have clashed for centuries to get along?” 

The same is true in school.  Parents will often ask, “Why are kids so mean to each other?”  If we can’t relate to each other as parents, how can we possibly expect our children to be able to relate to each other?  I know first-hand just how difficult it can be.  One time one of my kids had an issue with friends at school.  I knew the right thing to do was to talk to the parents about it, but it was hard to pick up the phone.  I was so afraid of sounding judgemental, or being judged, that I was close to changing my mind.  I did end up making those calls and guess what?  The other parents were great!  They listened and we talked about the challenges of being a parent.  We didn’t necessarily fix everything for our kids, but at least we kept open our lines of communication and built empathy among each other.

I often tell people that our children are a reflection of the very best, and the very worst, of us.  While I do see the mean behaviours at school sometimes, they are exponentially outnumbered by the good I see everyday.  The overwhelming majority of our students are empathetic, understanding, compassionate, and kind most of the time.  Each day I witness acts of kindness and love between students that melt my heart.  God’s grace is active in our school and I see it alive in our students.

If your child has done something mean, or if something mean has been done to them; take heart.  There is compassion and understanding all around us if we look for it.  As long as we as parents can model empathy and communication, our children will be resilient and get through the hard times.  The challenges are just one small chapter of the story in their journey to sainthood.