Long before he was a poet, before he was a conscientious objector, William Stafford was just a kid. He was a kid in the 1920s, when bullying and racism and all sorts of cruelty were out in the open.
One day, a young William came home and reported to his parents that two young black kids were being taunted at school. His parents had one question for him: “And what did you do, Billy?”
This is a wonderful question.
Notice that the parents did not rush to the phone to call his teachers. They did not yell. They did not fret or worry. Nor did they criticize him or assume anything. They used it as an opportunity to ask, and what did you do about this?
His answer: “I went and stood by them.”
One can only imagine how pleasantly surprised they were to find that their son had absorbed the lessons they’d tried to teach in their home, that he understood value and duty and kindness and human decency.
We can apply this in our own homes. Because we want to raise kids who don’t just come to us with problems or complaints or fears, but empowered kids who not only know the right thing but have absorbed the most important thing: actually doing it.