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It’s Simple…Really

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer DeFranco

I recently had the privilege to attend a screening of a documentary called “Finding Kind”.  The concept is simple, really…be kind.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, this film can easily make you lose faith in the idea of kindness when you see what a lack of kindness has done to a generation of little girls that struggle with those that cannot “find kind”. 

The idea for the movie came from two college grads that went on a mission to “find kind” after living on the both sides of the “girl world” that adolescent girls endure every day.  They set out to find an answer to why girls are so mean to each other.  Why they act they way they do and why is it so hard to be a girl.  Their campaign is labeled the “Kind Campaign” and their idea is to spread kindness across the country and help girls learn to cope in the “girl world” which is often so horribly mean. 

As a bullying advocate I watched intently to find a hidden solution beyond the simplicity of just being kind.  But I was pleasantly surprised to realize that it really is that simple.   And it is something that can easily spread like wild fire, if given space to grow.  And even easier…it is something many work to instill in their children already, so why is it so hard to do?

The journey that the two women traveled took them into schools, homes, and community locations to talk with girls and women of all ages, from all parts of the country, about their experiences and interpersonal relationships with other girls.  These interviews and encounters produced heartbreaking teary recaps of name calling, isolation and straight forward bullying tactics that left these girls scarred by hurtful words and actions that will likely stick with them for many years into their adult life. 

As a mother to a daughter of adolescent age, and having survived the “girl world” myself, I have seen the drama in action.  It is scary to watch and even scarier to think it is happening to so many young girls every day.   The stories the movie shows are very real and the pain is even worse.  You can see it in the eyes of the victims and you can hear the guilt in the voices of the, now women, who caused this pain so many years ago during their own adolescent years.  During the discussion following the film, grown women and young girls, alike, shared their own stories of torturous activity that has left emotional scars deeper than can be imagined by most of us. 

In the end, I walked away, not with a new revelation that simply being kind will change the world, but with the feeling and hope that it actually will change a norm that is accepted as a rite of passage for girls.  The fact is, if we could all just learn to communicate and accept that everyone has things going on in their own lives that most of us are not aware of, we CAN in fact change the world through the simple act of kindness. 

So, take a minute, think about your own life and simply “find kind” within yourself (and others) and spread it everywhere you go.  It IS that simple.  Really. 

Jennifer DeFranco is a committed PTA leader and education advocate in Illinois and currently serves as the Membership/Marketing Director for the Illinois PTA. She also served as the 2010 Illinois delegate to the Parenting Magazine Mom Congress at Georgetown University and currently serves as a mentor for the 2011 delegation, presenting on bullying prevention. Additionally she serves as a trustee for the District 15 Educational Foundation, a soccer coach and Girl Scout leader. She is the mother of two outstanding elementary age children and a wife to an exceptionally wonderful husband. Connect with her on Twitter @JenDeFranco.