Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Teaching Compassion

It's that time of year to be thinking about resolutions... Mommy says she's going to focus on resolutions that bring happiness and that sort of thing. I like that idea - I think I'll focus on having fun!

Today's guest blogger is Ms. Prasti, who writes about how to foster compassion in your children. Definitely a worthy concept to think about during your focus on resolutions!

A number of weeks ago, I made a post on my blog on the idea of teaching compassion and giving in reaction to the oncoming commercialized Christmas season and our society's seeming obsession on getting more. As parents of an budding adolescent and an impressionable toddler, it is a struggle at times to teach them the difference between wants and needs and to first think of others before themselves. And how do we teach them about compassion when most of what they see in society is focused more on putting yourself first before others? I've come to realize that as the primary role models for our children, it is not enough just to talk about these
ideas. It is not even enough to merely talk about what God's expectations are for us in these areas (or all areas of our life, for that matter). As parents, the best way to teach our children about the importance of compassion, giving, and wanting less for us and more for others is to, as Nike says, “just do it.” It's easy for us to provide verbal explanations for why we have to do certain things, but it's a different story when we show our children through our own actions why we do things the way we do. Leading by example is not always an easy task. Sometimes it can take a lot of your time and effort, but I think it's time well spent knowing that your actions are
making an impact in your children's lives.

To take it a step further, not only can you lead by example but provide an opportunity for your child to get involved as well. This is a great way for kids to gain a better understanding of compassion. For instance, our son has participated a number of times in a food bus ministry where they prepare and serve food to homeless people in our city. The first day he participated, he came home saying he wished he could have stayed there and did more. It's a bit harder for our daughter to participate in something of that nature (since she's only 2). Right now, we're starting small....like learning to share, or letting her pick out something to give to someone else. We also get the whole family involved when we do our monthly meal service for a teen mother's program in our city.

As a parent, doing these things is easier said than done. Sometimes I see myself fall into the trap of desiring more for myself and forgetting about the rest of the outside world. It's easy to feel disconnected when I live in a place where everyone around me has a home, two or three cars, a flat screen TV or two, computers, iPods, and all sorts of life's little accessories. And our children probably feel the same way too. But when we consciously involve ourselves and our children in serving people in need, or putting our desires aside to meet the needs of others, then I think as a family we will grow to gain a better understanding of compassion. And our children will grow up to understand that same idea because we have taken the time to teach them in more ways
than words can offer.

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-10.

About Prasti: I have an 11 year old step-son, a 2 year old daughter, and a little bean due in May. I've lived in Northeast Ohio for 3 years where the weather is sometimes too cold in the winter, sometimes too hot in the summer, but always unpredictable :).


Dennis said...

So True, So True.

Bringing Candle Making Home

Dennis said...

So True, So True.

Bringing Candle Making Home

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

This is a great post. This is something that has been weighing on me for a long time to do with my kids, but I just haven't taken the time to do it. Thank you for the prodding, and for giving the Holy Spirit an avenue to speak through.
Have a Happy New Year!

♥ Somebody Loved ♥ said...

I think because the world has placed the importance on the getting and not the giving... esp. giving of oneself not ones money. We have a bigger responsibility to teach our kids. Since mine are all out of the nest... I can only hope I did my job well enough.


Anonymous said...

I agree....this is a great post....and these are values I definitely want to teach my son.

RobertS said...

It is often hardest to do the right or best thing, otherwise everyone would be doing it. You and Aaron are raising 2 fine kids and the world will be a better place because of you and them.

Tabitha Blue said...

So true, and something we all should live by. I strive to teach my daughter about giving as well... and it really does pay off. I love to see the sincere generosity that a toddler can offer, and it touches my heart too. Thanks for sharing this!!