We’ve all heard the term “pay it forward” as it’s been a part of the present social consciousness since 2000 when a book and movie debuted with the same title. It refers to the concept of doing a favor or blessing individuals in hopes that they will do the same for others, thereby paying forward good will.
But my theme this month is about paying forward to create an overall better society by starting small, within our own homes. If you have children, you know what a momentous task it is to raise them in this crazy, digital, over-indulged, 24-hour news, reality TV world. They have peer pressure from other kids in their proximity, as well as from their Instagram feed, You-tube videos, Snapchat and the shows they absorb too readily from the many devices we have in our lives. And somewhere along the way, a lot of parents have lost their direction in preparing their children for the outside world.
Sometime in the last 30 years, we began to parent by “neighborhood council” where we let what other families were doing become the norm so that we did what everyone else was doing. It’s a tough job raising kids without having to come up with our own set of rules, especially when parents feel pressured by other parents. If Suzy comes home saying that all of her other friends’ parents are saying yes, well by golly, you’d better say yes too.
Unfortunately, our society seems to be hurting due to this method of parenting. Every day common courtesies and polite behavior are becoming unusual and no longer the norm. Fight for your rights, stand up for yourself, it’s “me” time are the mantras of the enlightened individual.
So my thought is this: rather than buy coffee for the next 3 people in line behind you at Starbucks, why not pay it forward to society by resolving to send a responsible, compassionate, non-self-centered adult into the world when they leave your home? Teach your child to take the high road when they are slighted by other children. Speak compassionately of individuals who have less materially than you do, and instead highlight some of their assets in other areas. Model an “I am Third” attitude in your home and praise your children when they do the same. Teach them to be respectful and polite always—not just when they are treated likewise. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.
And if your children are grown and have left the home, you can still influence them by example…grow old with grace, let go of old grudges, model patience and compassion. Let’s pay it forward to the world in which our children will raise their children. Let’s take back the era of rude behavior and carve out a bit of Pleasantville in our lives. What’s wrong with being nice?