You Are Important

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

There are times when things seem to come together.  Situations when wise teachings you read or witness need to be put into action.

A week ago, my wife made it possible for me to get away for the weekend alone – no wife, no kids, no dog.  I’m an introvert by nature, so it was an opportunity for me to decompress and think through some things.  It was a wonderful gift.

That weekend I finally got the chance to watch the award-wining movie The Help.  The movie is based on the New York Times best seller by Kathryn Stockett about some extraordinary women in the 1960’s South who became unlikely friends around a secret writing project.

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Viola Davis played Aibileen, an African-American housemaid, who raised 17 white children during her career.  These children loved her like their own mother.   She would tell them often … “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” … even though she was treated like a second-class citizen by their parents.   It was something you don’t forget.

Well, last night I was at home with my son working with him to prepare for a difficult 4th grade math test.  It was really hard because I personally struggled to solve a couple of the complex story problems.  My son had brought home an “E” grade on the practice test.  He said he felt stupid.

I immediately thought of what Aibileen said and told him … “You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important.”  I don’t care about this math test.  I’ll never judge you by a stupid math test.  I love you … you are important.

I asked him to repeat the phrase to himself … “I am kind.  I am smart.  I am important”  (and he did).  And I asked him to repeat the phrase again and again throughout the night (and he did).

My wife and I plan to intentionally repeat Aibileen’s words often in both our children’s lives.

It’s so important to speak kind words into people, especially the ones you love the most.  Sometimes you need a good movie to remind you to do so.