What happens when your blog about 12 Secrets Happily Married Women Know goes viral, and people don’t criticize the article but criticize your wedding photos? If you are Galit Breen, you write another viral blog about how those publicly spewed, intrinsically negative and vile words hurt and were unnecessary. Then you realize this is the niche for which to author a simple, but needed, book to help parents navigate their children through the online world and cyberbullying. Galit Breen’s new book, Kindness Wins, offers ten easy, repeatable practices for parents (and really anyone) to create ways for their families to spread kindness through social media.
In Kindness Wins, Galit, a seasoned blogger, shares her own stories of navigating through social media with her parenting goggles, but also as a new user trying to find how to connect to others. She gives specific examples of how users (tweens and teens specifically) can tag and untag friends, causing social shaming and self doubt; follow and be followed by the hundreds, opening up your private life to strangers; say things you would never say to someone’s face and why that is inappropriate; and by being inclusive, or just not saying anything you can nurture any relationship. In her easy-to-read narrative, she shares how you can chat easily with your children about their own online presence and how with each post, they can make positive influences on their peers.
Kindness Wins shares tools for mothers, fathers, educators, friends and family to guide tweens and teens through social media in a heartwarming and supportive manner. By frequently visiting the topic of how to address inclusivity, undersharing and calling friends out in a nice way, Galit encourages us to raise the next generation of self aware and altruistic children. My favorite take away from this book is how she encourages you to draw from your community of friends, and the parents of your children’s friends to spread kindness through social media, and help each other out if there is some cyberbullying identified. Basically, making the village be an online support for your children just as much as you want them to be in person.
I am also very encouraged by the chapter “We Don’t Talk about Other People’s Bodies”, which obviously is one of the reasons this book became a concept. As I have shared my own thoughts on discussing people’s bodies, I love that she also addresses the same thing. We just need to leave the topic of a person’s body out of conversation. She really hits home when she says “the facade of the delete button seems to give people the leeway, freedom,….unfortunate confidence to write, type, and post with wild abandon.” So, just don’t talk about anyone’s body, ever.
The reading is light, the topic is hard, and the practice is ongoing, but Kindness Wins provides life-serving tidbits that cross the online and real life boundaries to better serve every person in your life. This is a manual on how to be fair, be kind, be meek, take a breath and think about the lasting impressions of what you will say or post in any moment. A must read for any parent expecting to place an electronic device in their child’s hand at any time in the future, but also for anyone interested in monitoring their social presence. Social media is everywhere, and by raising our children to be kind, we will all win.
Kindness Wins is available for presale now on Amazon and will be available for download and print on April 7, 2015.
I am very excited that Galit Breen has offered one FREE Kindness Wins E-book to one of our readers. This book will be sent directly to you on April 9th, 2015. Enter below for your chance to win.
She is also graciously offering a special for all of our readers!!! If you enter in the giveaway and do not win, but purchase Kindness Wins, she will send you her free Lemons to Lemonade Party and Book Discussion Guide! More details to come after the giveaway.
I (virtually) sat down with Galit and asked her a couple of questions for our readers.
Nicole: For readers like myself with young children under the age of 6, what would be your biggest advice when it comes to social media and our families in the coming years?
Galit Breen: I love this question so much because all of this truly comes up–like everything else in parenting–so very much faster than we expect it to! So I have two answers to this question.
The first is about posting to social media as parents of young children–I think it’s ridiculously important to remember how permanent everything we post about our kids is. So we shouldn’t post anything today that they may regret 5, 10, 15 years from now–we’re creating their digital footprints.
And my second answer is about parenting our kids’ social media use–we have to be good and comfortable having the uncomfortable conversations around cyberbullying and online safety with our kids before we consider handing them a phone and social media passwords. So now is the right time to start being transparent about what you’re doing online, what you’re not doing online, and why. When my younger kids ask what I’m posting or doing or looking at online, I tell them. Not because I’m planning on letting them be online tomorrow, but because I’m modeling the openness I want them to mirror and because I want to warm both of us up–really, really well–to discussing this topic.
Nicole: Can you give us an example of where you potentially cyberbullied or made a comment that was taken the wrong way on social media and how did you recover from it personally and socially?
Galit: Yes. In Kindness Wins I talk about a time I commented on a photo of a baby that a friend shared without looking into the whole story of why she was sharing it. My comment–meant to be about how cute the baby in the photo was–would have been so very hurtful to this baby’s parents. My friend deleted my comment and messaged me to explain why. She absolutely did me a favor. For me, this was a personal lesson learned to think before I post and a lesson taught via my friend in how to gracefully help peers who misstep on social media. Incidents like this one are the reason each chapter has a section in it about how to discuss online kindness with our peers. If we want to create a culture of cyber-kindness, we have to be able to talk about it with each other!
Nicole: I am encouraged that you turned the negative body image comments from your marriage article into something that we can all learn from in this book about cyberbullying. I think the whole chapter on “We don’t talk about other people’s bodies” is an important one. Where do you think the future will take us in regards to body image and social media?
Galit: This topic is really close to my heart, too. I can’t think of very many times that talking about other people’s bodies begets anything positive, especially online. Not everyone agrees with me. One educator reached out to me saying that we need to normalize positive body talk. I think there’s room for both of us to be right here. We don’t need to agree on this. What we do need to agree on is to discuss the implications of body talk on social media and to teach our kids what these implications have the potential to be. Once we agree to think before we post and discuss before we hand over phones, we’re already headed in the right direction. My hope for my xoJane article and for Kindness Wins is for both to be conversation starters. And I think this is where we’re headed toward when it comes to body image and social media–more thoughtful posting where kindness is expected and shaming and bullying are the surprises, and not the other way around.
Nicole: WiseMommies is about sharing where wisdom and parenthood come together. What is one place that you find wisdom and parenthood join in your life regularly? What is the wisdom you hope to pass onto your children?
Galit: The bottom line for both my husband, Jason, and I has always been to teach our kids to approach everyone and everything from a place of kindness–not because anyone’s watching or they’d “be in trouble” for the opposite, but just because it’s the right thing to do.
Nicole: Lastly, you refer to your marriage post experience as a lemon-lemonade stand moment…..What is your favorite lemonade or where do you go for your favorite lemonade? Did you have a lemonade stand as a child?
Galit: I love this question so much! I’ve been calling all of this my “lemons to lemonade moment” but I actually like your way much better! One of my favorite posts I’ve written is These Are The People Who Stop At Lemonade Stands. The last line in it explains how I feel about lemonade stands and the people who stop at them: “The [people] who showed our kids the value of being Sweet and slowing down, of noticing the people around you and that, sometimes, it’s the simplest kindnesses that go the furthest.” That’s really what this is all about, isn’t it? “Be kind online” isn’t a novel concept, we just all need to learn how to do so deftly.
And while I never had a lemonade stand as a child, my kids are all about them! We love all kinds of lemonade at our house, but no one can beat my husband’s perfect blend of fresh lemons, lots of sugar, and water!
Nicole: Thank you for kindly correcting me on the lemon-lemonade moment as oppose to my reference of the lemonade stand moment. And thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and giveaway with our readers.