“He’s only 7-months-old!” (insert eyeroll)
This is the statement that I’ve heard (with a change to the exact age) during the past few
months as we take our son out into the world for various experiences. At 7-months-old,
he has been to his first social rally, volunteered to make quilts for families overseas, assisted in teaching adult English Language Learners, participated in local charity events, attended a photo exhibit highlighting the refugee population in our city, prepared lunch for children with disabilities and their respite care providers, sent cards to elderly shut-ins, and most recently, interacted with an exhibit through Compassion International.
Now, I know that his memory will not recall these events at such a young age, but that is not the purpose. The reason for these experiences is not for him to say, “I did this,” and “I did that.” The drive behind these experiences is to teach our son some of life’s lessons. My child may only be a few months old, but he is not too young for his parents to model positive behaviors for him to develop as he grows into an adult.
One of these lessons is to be compassionate. I recently heard a broadcast online about teaching your children to be compassionate. This lead to researching for the article which is entitled, Cultivate Compassion in Your Kids. In this article, the father discusses steps that their family takes as a unit to interact with their local homeless community and to instill in their children the importance of being compassionate, not fearful, towards those around you. I believe that as a parent, it is my responsibility to utilize experiences in the world around us to teach my children ways that we can leave a positive impact. These are some other traits we hope to cultivate as a family through the previously mentioned activities:
- attending rally = respecting others when they have opposing views from your own
- making quilts = grateful for the many blessings we have in our lives that we might have otherwise overlooked (ex. having a blanket)
- teaching ESL = collaborative in working with people from all around the world
- charity events = loyal while standing beside those whose passions you support
- photo exhibit = proactive in the local community
- preparing lunch = kind towards others (here’s some great tips on teaching kindness)
- sending cards = thoughtfulness and love in giving of your time to providing a smile on someone else’s face
- Compassion International exhibit = empathy towards others and the true challenges they may be facing in life
You see, the reality is that it does not matter if my son is 7-months, 7-years, 17-years or 70-years-old. Being an active participant in the world around us can take place at any age. The goal is for our children to work with others in helping to make things better. This could be as easy as sending a quick note to your friend who just lost a loved one, mowing the grass for your elderly neighbor, or even simply saying, “Hi! How are you doing?” to the person you are standing next to in the grocery line (instead of staring at your cell phone, or looking off into the distance as if there’s not another human being right next to you). The more we teach our children (and remind ourselves) to be interconnected, the better our communities will become. And the better our communities become, the more positive changes we could see rippling out. It’s time to refuse to just stand by and watch things happen around us. Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What is the change that YOU would like to see in the world?
Ahmeli…that our children will see us BEING the change we wish to see in the world.
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