My oldest son is in the 2nd grade and is just now beginning to experience the nuances of friendships that aren’t hyper-supervised by moms at playdates. Recently, he told me about a boy who was making something of a habit out of hitting another boy with his reading folder every time the teacher isn’t looking. “And what did you do about it?” I asked him. He told me that it made him angry to see his friend hurting another kid and that he told him as much. For me, teaching my kids — and especially my boys — to stand up and speak up when they see something unjust happening in front of them is at the top of my list.
But I’m not the only parent who’s actively trying to raise empathetic and brave little people who will hopefully help to shape this world into a kinder, more gentler place. Grammy award-winning singer (and all-round awesome person) Kelly Clarkson thinks so, too. The star and mom of two recently told People magazine about an exchange she had with her 18-month-old son, Remington Alexander, and the important lesson she hoped to impart.
“I said, ‘You tell mommy if somebody does anything inappropriate,'” she recalled to the mag. “‘You stand up for yourself.'”
Clarkson was making the point that not only do kids possess the ability to use their voice, but that they should absolutely be empowered to use it.
“Even from a young age, I think you should instill that people, your children, should always stand up for themselves or speak out when something is wrong,” she told People. And she’s absolutely right.
Even with all of the talk right now about raising fierce and confident girls, it still feels revolutionary to hear a strong female with a huge platform using her own voice to inspire kids to get used to doing the same. Not only can girls and boys be taught, nurtured, and encouraged to stand up for themselves, but they can also learn to stand up for others, too. Because yes, it takes a village to raise young people; but we also have to remember: those young people will grow up to become the future village, and darn it if we don’t want them to be stronger than us, amirite?
Clarkson also pointed out that she’s teaching her daughter River Rose to start honing her observational skills about the safety and comfort of others around her. Clarkson told PEOPLE, “Not only for them, what’s happening to them, but maybe somebody in the class who you notice,” because every kid needs a pair of trustworthy eyes and ears watching and listening out for them.
Clarkson went on to say that, “I think if we start it at that young age, and you start molding people and growing to these very elevated individuals that help elevate society. It’s a really crucial time when you have children right now.”
As a mother of three tirelessly trying to hammer out these very lessons in my own family, I find Clarkson’s view on kids and community, empathy and decency to be absolutely vital and worth of talking about.