These are precious moments, and when they happen, we are filled with true gratitude.
We are reminded of the many ways kindness matters, and it is awesome.
The question is, are we carrying this gratitude forward? Are we actually requiring our girls to reach out to others with the same compassion they have been shown? Based on what the girls are telling me, the answer is often NO.
Here’s what they say. A girl sees another girl struggling. They may not even be good friends. But she is intuitive, caring and compassionate and willing to reach out when no one else does (apparently not even this girls “friends). And her kindness makes the other girl feel better. Maybe she introduces her to a new group of friends. Maybe she just helps boost her self-esteem at a time when she is feeling low. Maybe she asks her to do something when she hasn’t had plans for a while or is new in town. She goes out of her way for this girl without expecting anything in return.
The struggling girl recovers, and moves past whatever was troubling her. And the girl who reached out? Does the girl she helped treat her with appreciation and gratitude? Does she reciprocate? Sadly, no. Despite the fact that her kindness is what lifted this girl up, if she wasn’t in her immediate social circle, or can’t advance her social status, the first girl doesn’t remember that she exists once her immediate need has passed. Or she doesn’t care. Because she makes no effort to reach back out to her. She does not include her in any plans. She took all that girl was willing to give, but never feels the need to reciprocate.
The girl who reached out sees pictures on Instagram of parties she wasn’t invited to and this girl getting together with other people after telling her she had other plans. This feels terrible. And it is horribly unjust.
It hurts my heart to watch beautiful, kind, amazing girls choking back tears as they tell me how they have been callously discarded by those so willing to embrace their friendship when they had no one else. I hear this far too often.
These wonderful girls with hearts big enough to reach out are leaders.They are strong and brave and WILL be among those who truly make a difference in life. Although I know that, and will give them tools to survive this and worse, it doesn’t take away the immediate hurt.
Girls who don’t reciprocate the kindness of others are missing out on a valuable lesson. You don’t take and take and take. You are not the only person with feelings that matter. You have to practice compassion if you are to be compassionate. Our girls need to remember the golden rule, and parents do them a great service when we require them to live it.