Kindness Matters

Confessions

I have a confession. I LOVE K-dramas…I don’t just like them; I’m addicted to them. It’s A Thing. And no, it wasn’t always that way. It started innocently enough with music videos, but became more serious, bit by bit, spurred on by my teenage daughters. Yes, I know music videos are NOT K-dramas, but this was my introduction to the Korean entertainment culture. I first began to listen to the music when the girls weren’t around. It’s gradually progressed to the point it is now, where I pay for another streaming subscription focusing only on Asian movies and TV series. Heaven forbid there aren’t enough free ones on the other platforms I already have. 🤦‍♀️

And right about now, you may be confused…how in the world does this play into kindness? Allow me to elaborate for you.

Bringing it together

I’ve been a single mom for over ten years, and my two daughters are now 15 and 17. Saying it’s been a learning process for all of us would be an understatement. It’s been a rough ride in general, but especially over the last two years. A LOT has happened, good and bad, that has tested our relationship. Depression, differences in beliefs, and lack of boundaries for too many years in their childhood are some things we’ve struggled with. The normal is either avoiding each other or bickering; and a simple comment will end in tears. There have been too many “I hate you” comments to count. I never imagined parenthood could be this hard.

Around January 2020 (briefly before Covid struck) we were very much in need of something to bring us together. I needed help to relate to them and we needed something to focus on other than the trials and misunderstandings that continued to happen in our home. I would have never guessed that solution would be spending SO many hours sitting on a couch, not just watching, but also experiencing these over-the-top, dramatic, beautifully crafted series in a language and culture I didn’t understand.

Changing perspective

I’m not going to lie. It was not easy. I’m normally a Friends/Parks and Rec sitcom and Rom-Com type girl. When they asked me to watch the first K-drama with them, I was highly resistant. Ugh…I had to READ my entertainment – gross. I watch TV to escape, not think. It took me being open to trying something new and outside of my comfort zone even to start, much less get to the point we are now.

As I started spending this time with my daughters, it was less about the shows and more about the fact that I spent the time and energy to engage with them. I showed them that I cared about things that mattered to them, which excited and entertained them. Exploring this new type of show allowed me to see the world through a different perspective – one that interested them. I got to see their reactions and hear their perspectives on different situations, see their strengths in action and help them see more about me as a person in the process, not just as a parent.

Life Lessons Learned from K-dramas

I tried to do more than meet their basic needs; I showed them kindness in a way they understood – quality time and genuine connection. Lucky for me, I learned a few life lessons as I enjoyed these many hours of K-dramas over the last 16 months. I’d love to share them with you for those of you curious to know more than my little parenting tip about spending quality time.

1.  Beauty is everywhere when you’re open to it

As I alluded to before, everyone, including myself, thought I was nuts when I started watching these. However, once I realized how important it was to my daughters and gave them a chance, I saw how beautiful they could be. What started as just putting up with another of my daughters’ phases has turned out to be a turning point in our relationship. These series don’t feel thrown together like series in our culture. They create an entire world with the attention to detail, the thought-out characters and their dialogue, the music created unique for each series (apparently called an OST- original soundtracks) and the cinematography. An entire world is created to carry you away, for however long you get to be there. As in life, when you stop to pay attention to the details, you can get carried away.

2.  Messy emotions are beautiful

One of my most significant values is authenticity, being honest. One of the things I love about K-dramas is that they are so open with all of their emotions. They are just so real and significant, like how the characters are probably experiencing them. The anticipation of the first kiss, the pain from the heartbreak, the thrill of getting something right. The characters will not hesitate to start bawling in the rain at a bus stop if they feel it or yell in pain or joy. It doesn’t matter where they are; all emotions are shown and felt when they need to feel them. Not worrying about what others think is so beautiful and can be transformational. I know it is not realistic in daily life, but I strive to be as open with my emotions in my own way.

3.  Acceptance can take you to new levels

Once I stopped fighting it because of what I thought other people would think (yep, it’s a thing for me…), I started to appreciate the beauty of this experience even more. It wasn’t just a way to escape; it was something I could enjoy. The beauty of this experience is that we don’t just sit on the couch staring mindlessly at the TV while watching; we converse, we react. We analyze the plot, get frustrated with the characters, cry with them. We use the story to talk about things that mirror our world somehow. It gave us common ground and something to bond over. We got to know each other on a deeper level, similar to what happens when we stop fighting ourselves and get to know ourselves deeper.

4.  Patterns are meant to be broken

Like Hallmark movies (which I love), most K-dramas follow a similar plotline and episode path. They follow a specific pattern. I’ve learned these patterns from my oldest daughter, who knows them like the back of her hand by now. When we are lucky enough to notice a series breaking the pattern, we get excited to see what will happen next. Like patterns of behaviors and thoughts in our own lives, the fun part is knowing these patterns and then changing them up from the normal to get to have a different experience.

5. (& 6?)  Life is about the journey and not everything is meant to be forever

In each new series, I get engrossed in the story. It’s not about just finishing the series. It’s about the moments I get to spend with my girls while watching. The laughs, the tears, outbursts at how sappy or infuriating the characters or plot is. I enjoy each episode, plot point, relationship mishap, funny and painful moments. The moment it ends, when we reach our destination, we feel sad because the characters are now gone. While we enjoyed our time together and the lessons we learned from the journey, it can’t keep going forever. We have to get back to our lives. But to make it a little easier for us, in our minds, the characters keep living their lives, doing their thing; we just no longer get to be a part of it.

I would love to say the time spent solved our problems, but life doesn’t work that way. It did not by any means fix our relationship. We still struggle, but when they look back to the craziness that was quarantine and a rough spot in their childhood, they will hopefully know that I cared and that I enjoyed that time as much as they did.

While I’ve heard most of these lessons before, the sheer unexpectedness of how important they were during this time was an unexpected wonder for me. I got to experience the lessons I work on with my clients firsthand, that change of perspective to make a shift in a relationship I care so deeply about. If you struggle with any of these things, I invite you to reach out for that hand of help. I love working with independent GenX women to see things from a different perspective so they can move forward from whatever stuck place they’re in. To improve all relationships, start with yourself and let the love and kindness flow outward. When our relationship with self is solid, all others are just a bit easier.

Laura Russell
Laura Russell is a Certified Life Coach who helps big-hearted, stressed out women move from the exhaustion of doing “all the things” to a place of energy, “enoughness” and contentment. Using a holistic coaching approach, she is your guide in breaking the patterns and creating new habits that will cut through the thoughts, emotions and beliefs that have kept you stuck. With compassion, humor and sometimes a gentle prodding, she will help you begin applying what you’ve read about in all your beloved self-development books and now take brave action to create a new joyful life that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”
You can contact Laura via email or follow her on her website.

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