As parents, we all want to see our children act with compassion and show empathy toward others. You want to see that when your children are young, but especially as your children grow into young adults and face more diverse situations in a world where violence and cruelty are almost accepted by everyone around us. When my children were younger these two traits were easier to see. My daughter always wanted to take an extra snack for the little boy sitting next to her that didn’t have one. My boys always wanted to take toys to other boys that didn’t have any.
As they’ve become teenagers, sometimes these traits are lacking a little. I find myself saying, “think about how that would make you feel,” a lot more than I use to. It’s normal for teenagers to think it isn’t as “cool” to be compassionate or to have empathy toward their peers and other people they are surrounded by in a harsh and mostly uncaring society. They are exposed to so much negativity through social media and television that I think teenagers think it is normal to treat people with so much disrespect. As a member of society and especially as a mother, my wish is for my kids to be kinder and gentler toward each other. I wish all teens would develop such a sense of caring and love for others.
I feel that it’s important to continue no matter how old our kids are, to teach them the importance of compassion and empathy. Every summer I take my kids to the local food pantry to volunteer and hand out food to people in need. They always leave there thankful for the food that they take for granted on a daily basis. We take part in toy drives at their high school. The kids usually remind me every year that they are going on at the school. Every Christmas we pick an angel from the tree at the mall and become a secret Santa to a child in need. The kids always want to be involved in purchasing toys and clothes for this angel that we pick. I always remind them how proud it makes me to see them involve themselves in these activities. It makes my heart so full to feel that they have love for those less fortunate. I also remind my children when they show traits of carelessness and selfishness. I think it is important to remind them of the good as well as the bad.
“You can’t soar with eagles when you flock with chickens”.
I think we should continue to guide our children by our words as well as our actions. Children, especially teens, watch their parents, and other adults they respect, for ideas on how to behave and usually mimic those behaviors. I think we should surround ourselves with a tribe of caring and loving people. We should demonstrate our own strengths in choosing the people we want to surround ourselves with to educate our children on how to do so. Steer your children clear of other kids who don’t demonstrate the characteristics you long for in your kids. They are so impressionable and vulnerable in their teenage years. They need to surround themselves with positive influences.
As my husband’s Daddy J always said, “You can’t soar with eagles when you flock with chickens”.
Let’s love and lead our kids in the ways we would love to see our world in years to come. Let’s teach them to love one another and be kind and gentle hearts. It may not change the world as we know it, but it’s a wonderful start.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Colossians 3:12