I remember reaching out to a mom whose kid was being mean and demeaning to my son at our new school.

A couple of parents had witnessed the boy being cruel and had to stop him a couple of times, I found out. My heart broke.

I worked with my son first, trying to understand and encourage him in ways to handle this at 8 years old. After a couple of parents approached me, concerned by what they had seen, I approached the mom.

Her response shocked me, “My son’s a leader. He’s strong. I’m not going to talk to him because I’m raising strong kids.”

She looked at me like she was challenging me about how I was raising mine.

You know, it’s interesting. I’m such an introspective person. Willing to see and to grow – and to learn from even the most challenging people or situations.

I admire strength.

I never admire meanness.

Like my friend, Tracy, told me she learned in her own life:

“You don’t have to be mean to be strong.”

We all have mean moments. That’s human. Including yours truly. Just ask my husband.

But some of us live in mean ways because at some point we justified that behavior and added that to our methods for handling life.

And instead of calling it “mean”

We called it “strong.”

Let’s stop justifying that in our own lives-

Let’s stop being trolls and taking our disagreements about politics or parenting (or anything else) to that hateful place

And let’s stop raising our kids with that as a justified way of behaving in theirs.

“You don’t have to be mean to be strong” indeed.

And kindness is not the opposite of strength.

It’s actually a part of it
Because it comes from the heart
And nothing is more powerful than Love.

Stacey Robbins
Author of An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide