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I think everyone was misty-eyed when they read the viral Twitter texts between Delaney Keefe and her mom Tamara. Delaney, a college student in Virginia texts her mom every day, and she always receives (in her words) “an absurdly optimistic and kind” response. She shared screenshots of those texts via Twitter, and so far their heartwarming exchanges have been Retweeted over 130,000 times.
every single day i send my mom a very strange text and every day she responds with something absurdly optimistic and kind pic.twitter.com/zwZwW41QA0
— delaney keefe (@delaney_keefe) November 7, 2016
I wasn’t surprised though of these awesome responses from Delaney’s mom, who just happens to be a friend, and seriously the most positive person on this planet. Tamara Keefe, mother of three girls Delaney (17), Grace (13), and Carly (11), was key in starting me on my journey of self-discovery, which resulted in IVF treatment. And as I read her responses to her daughter, I thought to myself, “How can I learn to be this kind and compassionate with my girls?”
So I asked Tamara to chat about the viral texts, the challenges of raising her three girls, and how we all can instill this same kindness in our children.
How did you feel when you found out Delaney had shared your texts via Twitter?
Tamara: I knew she had shared it, and the night before it went viral she texted me, “I just tweeted about you.” My first thought was “Oh no!” I looked at it while we were Facetiming and I laughed, it was a joke between us, and that’s kind of how we left it…like “how cute!” I guess to some degree, I recognized that I am absurdly optimistic and kind, so I’ll own it!
Tamara: I cried. I couldn’t believe my words had touched so many – I kind of felt like my whole life that being a mom was what I was called to do. I’ve had a career, and was married for 10 years before I was able to become a mom. But when I became a mother, that’s when I felt like I was fulfilled. Not that being a mom is easy, but the work is worth it. There’s a mom’s energy where you want to unconditionally love people and encourage people to be the best that they can be. When this became a story, I felt that it in some ways validated what I thought I was supposed to be doing. When people write that “this made me cry”, it made me so happy that people wanted to connect with their mom. It has been an overwhelming sense of humility and gratitude.
As a mom, I want to not only radiate this energy that you have, but also teach my kids to be kind. What are your tips for teaching and modeling kindness?
Tamara: 1. Gratitude – The first thing that comes to mind is gratitude period. In the good times it’s taking time to recognize what’s good and acknowledging that with each other. I text Delaney when she’s having a tough day, “What are you grateful for today?” I told her once that I was feeling grateful for her. When you start from gratitude, and realize the blessing that these kids are, and the amazing things that they teach me – it’s within the difficult times that it’s easier to be confident and handle what’s going on.
And to be clear, to me grateful means full of the greatness of God. If I recognize every moment and every life is full of the greatness of God, how can I not be positive?
2. Lead with Love – My go to thing is empathy first. I try to meet our kids where they are, like when they were younger and throwing a tantrum or being unkind, or self-centered, I have to slow down and sit down and say, “What’s going on?” Asking them, “How are you feeling right now” is so important. In the moment when emotion is high, it’s hard to be logical, it’s not a good time to process through it. So you have to love them first when things are heated, and let them know you are there.
You can also say something like, “I love you, what do you need right now, how can I help you right now?” That disrupts the behavioral pattern. Also, know that every moment is a teachable moment, for the child and the parent.
3. Be Curious – Be Curious, instead of judging them. My first question is usually “what just happened?” Not “Why did you push him? You know that’s not the right thing to do!” A tantrum is a huge complaint from the child where they don’t feel heard. A complaint is an unspoken request. So I think getting to the point where you’re curious, especially about a behavior that’s out of character or feels inappropriate, that question stops the child and gives them self-awareness.
A conscious and primary goal of mine has always been to build strong relationships with my daughters. (Everyone really!) I have always believed that if we can communicate with love, mutual respect and trust, I can be the best parent I can be and encourage them to become the best they can be.
What parenting books resonate with you?
Books really are a personal choice based on our values, so one of my values is to love unconditionally, and I believe every human being is doing the best they can in that moment. Some of the books that have influenced me:
Parenting with Dignity
None of these are totally an answer for the kind of parent that I strive to be. They all brought me some wisdom when I needed it. In addition to books, I do is to actively seek out other adults that I see having a positive impact on kids, and love learning from them.
Thanks to Tammy for sharing her beautifully positive texts, Tweets, and parenting advice with us. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her and her daughters. Be on the lookout for her new website soon, and follow Tammy and Delaney on Twitter now!
For more kindness vibes, check out this post and free printable!