Is Your Child Up to “Know Good”?

Child Up to Know Good (2)

How do we raise our kids to believe in the good in the world,even when bad things happen?

“There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people.  Some are a little better or a little worse, but all are activated more by misunderstanding than malice”-Tennessee Williams

Most of us like to compartmentalize our lives. We want to put different areas of our lives in neat little “boxes” that are free of conflict and adversity. When random unexplainable events disrupt our lives, we search aimlessly for answers that make sense to us.

Children are polarized thinkers. They see things as good or bad. This is why cartoons, movies and books always have  a good person and a villain. As they grow older and experience life, they start to notice the area of “gray areas of life” and start to question the concept of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. 

Unfortunately, what is happening in our society is that adults are now becoming polarized thinkers. We are so quick to judge and react to situations and simplify them as good or bad.  We focus on the bad things that we tend to overlook the good in the world. Our energy is directed at the violence, hate and anger that is permeating our society. Some of us are pessimistic; eagerly waiting to share bad news on social media. Instead of enjoying the good times, we wait anxiously for  something bad to happen.

We’ve lost faith in ourselves and in future generations. We want to  be optimistic about the future, but once we hear about another random act of violence, it sends us driving down despondency road again.

What are we teaching our children through our words and actions? How can we tell them to think positive, to plan for the future, when we present such a bleak future? Why do we tell our kids that “It gets better” then we turn around and say “Things are getting worse”.

We shouldn’t be surprised that our kids are becoming desensitized to tragedy. If we don’t help them to appreciate the good in life, we will raise a generation of jaded and cynical men and women.

We inundate ourselves with bad news and we partake in negativity by watching reality shows that glorify bullying, and thoughtlessness. Think about how much negativity and bad news we share through social media. Our kids are watching and paying attention and they’re beginning to accept this as normal. We can’t create a perfect world for our kids but we can change how they perceive life and tragedies.

We have to remind our kids that life has good and bad moments. They need reassurance that when bad things happen all is not lost and that there are good people in the world.  If we want to raise loving and empathetic adults, we need to exemplify love, empathy and  compassion. It starts with reminding ourselves that there is good left in the world, but it’s our job to notice it and show it to our kids.

Originally appeared at Raising Great

Photo: PurpleSherbet/Flickr

About Marie Roker-Jones

Marie Roker-Jones is a wife and mom of two boys. She is a NAMA Certified Anger Management Specialist, Youth Mental Health First Aider, and Certified Male Youth Life Skills Trainer She is the senior editor of the Raising Boy section of The Good Men Project and the Founder of Raising Great Men™ which provides parenting programs and workshops for raising boys and navigating the challenges of military deployments. Marie created #ManYouWantToBe, programs that help boys and young men to "mind up", not man up. Marie is co-founder of #CompassionConvos, #CompassionConvos are cross and inter-generational conversations using social media, online and in person around difficult subjects of bias. Conversations include, and are not limited to racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. These conversations challenge biases through dialogue and taking action. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+


  1. Tom Brechlin says:

    A pessimistic society. You’re right, there is so much negativity around us. But as you said it goes beyond reminding our kids in that we have to remind ourselves. So many people (adults) appear to be walking around with e chip on their shoulder. And I’ll admit that sometimes I’m one of them. But you have to admit that as adults who are conscious of what’s happening in society,that’s it’s hard to stay positive.

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