My daughter's teacher brought her political agenda to the classroom. Here's what I did.

On the whole, I’m a good person.

Really, I am.

I recycle, I pay it forward, and I practice random acts of kindness. I smile at strangers, hold doors open for people, and even let you merge ahead of me on the highway. I teach my kids — my “Fruit Loops,” as I call them — to say please and thank you and refer to grown ups as “Mrs.” or “Mr.” I’ve put children in time out so fast their heads have spun.


I'm also a responsible citizen. I pay attention to local politics, I vote in the primaries (midterm AND presidential) — I even show up to local zoning board meetings. I believe in civic duty and though I mostly ran for PTA president because I wanted the gavel, I also did it because I believe that as a parent, it’s my job to have a voice on issues like budgets and education.

My point? I’m doing the best I can to be a good human and raise humans who aren’t monsters. And since I've got that under control, I don’t need you or anyone else, to help me decide what my kids learn about sex, religion, and politics. I’m doing a pretty good job on my own, thank you very much.

Recently, Fruit Loop #2 was subjected to inappropriate, egregious discussions related to the underbelly of our society.

During the course of several weeks in Fruit Loop #2’s religion class, her teacher felt it necessary and appropriate to discuss topics that, frankly, even I can’t fully wrap my brain around at the age of 41.

Sex. Condoms. ISIS. Beheadings. Donald Trump coming to “save us all.” Every week, Fruit Loop #2 would come out of class bewildered and scared, with questions that made me want to stop driving us home and hold her. Her hazel eyes asked me if I’d miss her after ISIS beheaded her for standing firm in her belief in God.

Let that sink in: My daughter was told she should be brave if she was going to be beheaded in the name of Christ. No child needs to be told they can become a martyr if ISIS comes knocking.

To say that I was livid is an understatement. I emailed. I complained. I worked with other parents to make sure our children had a safe, kind environment in which to learn and grow. I had a nasty, downright dirty, face-to-face argument with the teacher about spreading hate, fear, and untruths to impressionable children. I was called “low” and “ugly” for speaking up, and I was told that I was doing a disservice to my child by sheltering her from the horrors of the world.

Humans are universal in two ways: Everyone poops and everyone has an opinion.

I get it. We are bombarded with soundbites, email blasts, and memes that make our eyes roll every single day. On the world stage, people who are supposed to be grown-ups are acting like moody 5-year-olds on a playground. It’s insipid and it’s frustrating, to say the least, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t deathly afraid for the future.

But I am making a concerted effort to wade through these sociopolitical minefields to truly understand the issues and decide when, how, and to what extent I want to explain them to my children.

What I am NOT doing is shoving my opinions down the throats of other people’s kids and giving them nightmares about men and machetes. And while my husband and I do have spirited debates at the kitchen table, we spend a lot of time helping the Fruit Loops understand the complicated processes that govern our world. We have open discussions and try to answer their questions as best as we can. We’re doing what we can to help our children learn from the mistakes our country is so obviously making right now.

And it's because we’re making that effort that it becomes so frustrating when other adults assume it’s their right or responsibility to teach their opinions to our kids.

Parents, it’s possible to help your kids understand the world without making them afraid of it.

Talk to them. Educate them. Help them understand. Teach them empathy for marginalized people and explain how they can act to make the world a better place. Empower them. Take them with you when you vote and let them pull the lever. Do what you can to give them the tools to become civic-minded adults who focus on solutions rather than hate.

And if you decide to reject all that and scare the wits out of your children instead, that's your business. But don't push your agenda on my kids.

This story originally appeared on Keeper of the Fruit Loops and is reprinted here with permission.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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"Exercises In Empathy" is a popular program among the inmates at Soledad State Prison in California. It's a book club where inmates get together to discuss literature with students from Palma School, a boys prep school located in nearby Salinas.

"[The students] go in thinking monster … and they come out thinking a man. A human being," Jim Micheletti, co-founder of the book club, told CBS News. "They've done bad things, but there are no throwaway people here."

A few years ago, members of the club read 1962's "Miracle On The River Kwai." The book tells an extraordinary story of survival in prisoner of war camps. In the book, the prisoners created a culture of sacrifice and called it "mucking" for each other.

So one of the inmates in the book club, Jason Bryant, decided that the inmates should "muck' for one of the students at Palma.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.