I have a friend who doesn’t believe in first impressions. When she meets someone new, she dives right into their soul to understand who they are at their core, not what they’re putting off in the first minute of meeting. No matter if they’re shy or guarded, she wants to know why before forming any opinions.
She has an uncanny ability to do all of this in a very short amount of time and always gives them the benefit of the doubt.
“Yes, she was very defensive, but I don’t think she’s had a good history with friends. It seems like she’s been hurt a lot in the past,” she says.
She’s always right. Always.
I can guarantee we all teach our children to approach people in this very open-minded, inclusive way. My daughter is 4 and I’ve already told her that if I ever, ever hear of her being mean to a friend, I will be very disappointed in her.
So, why don’t we, as adults, give this same benefit to children? I often hear parents talk about other children in ways that completely write them off.
“He’s an awful child. Clearly, he has a learning disability, but I don’t know what it is.”
“Did you just hear how she talked to her mom? I would never allow that in my house.”
What if he does have learning disability? That is a very scary thing to go through as an adult, I can’t imagine how confusing and embarrassing that has to be as a child. Why does that make him awful?
And, what if that little girl’s parents have recently told her they’re divorcing. That little girl’s world has just been rocked. She is going through every emotion right now and doesn’t know how to deal with them — because she’s a child.
They’re all children. Just like the ones we prayed for and carried in our tummies, watching everything we put into our mouths. We watched them be born. We cried when they were sick. We held them when they were scared. Someone has loved these children enough to do the same for them.
So, why are we so quick to judge? Why do we automatically think the worst of children based on small interactions, instead of getting to know them?
Shouldn’t we talk to them, play with them and figure out their core, too?
My 4-year-old is naughty. She is loud and bossy. She doesn’t listen. She gets tired and says things she doesn’t mean. Because she’s four. Not because she’s an awful person.
She’s also amazing beyond words. She’s helpful and loving. She begs to help make dinner. She will stop what she’s doing to play with her baby sister if she’s crying. She loves to cuddle. She is shy and sweet and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. She cries if she thinks she has hurt anyone’s feelings. She wants to be an animal doctor like her aunt Nikki. And also a cosmetologist because getting her hair cut is fun.
It makes me sad to think some people may have a negative impression of her. I’m confident if those people sat with her, colored a picture and talked to her, that they would love her.
Recently, a dad friend of mine sat down by my daughter after an evening of dinner and playing.
“You,” he said as he crouched down to look into her eyes (ironically not at all knowing I was writing this blog), “played so good with (his 18-month-old) tonight. I watched how you held his hand and included him. Thank you for being such a great helper.”
Her pride and self-confidence soared. She was still smiling as I tucked her into bed that night.
And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.
Melissa Cruickshank is married with two children. She works full-time. Read her here on momaha.com
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