We need to teach children that nice is not enough.
I hear "do not get angry". My minister did a sermon about grief and in it he spoke of anger too: he said that if we are being abused, if we are treated unfairly, if someone is gaslighting or lying or using us, it is APPROPRIATE to get angry. It is part of survival. It is part of self respect. It is one of the stages of grief, especially if the person is someone who says they love us or society says should love us.
A family member. A close friend. A significant other. A spouse. An employer.
We need to teach our children that they should NOT be nice all the time. That they should listen to their feelings. That does not always mean act on their feelings. They may be angry because they misheard someone. They may have interpreted what someone did incorrectly. Sometimes people will say they have good intentions, but good intentions are not enough either. You may intend to "make me happy" by doing something, but you may be making assumptions. I may not like it. Maybe you should ask me first or perhaps you need to pay attention to what I really like, not what you think I like, what you think I want, what you think I need.
And then I want to laugh, thinking of my mother's dryer.
Her mother wanted to get her a gift. She told my mother, "I want to get you a dryer, so you won't have to hang clothes on the line outside."
My mother said, "I don't want a dryer."
"What DO you want?" asked my grandmother.
"I want an emerald ring." said my mother.
"An emerald ring!" said my grandmother. "A dryer would be more useful!"
"I don't mind hanging clothes to dry. I would rather have a ring."
My grandmother traveled to Europe soon after. When she returned, she brought my mother a small package. "Here is your dryer." said my grandmother.
My mother opened the emerald ring. "Thank you!" she said, and hugged her mother.
Anger is not always inappropriate, nor is grief. We need to talk to our children about these emotions. All of the emotions, the full spectrum, the rainbow of feelings. It is appropriate to feel scared when things are frightening. One of my feelings right now is shame, at the behavior of my country's President. I am ashamed of his behavior, of how he treats people, of his denigration and firing and lies and scorn for science and immigrants. I am ashamed in front of my children, young adults, age 25 and 21. I feel that my country is failing them and the world. I am ashamed of the government shut down, of a President sulking, having tantrums and holding our country hostage, hurting government employees. I am afraid that there will be deaths because government employees have been sent home, are not being paid for their jobs, are working without pay. I am afraid and I wonder, who would work for our government after this?
We must teach our children to stand up, to speak out, to respectfully disagree, to recognize when an employer or significant other or President treats them disrespectfully, to recognize discrimination and to stand up for humanity. And to march and vote when it is time to march and vote.