The Gift of Compassion and Empathy
One thing I wholeheartedly believe in as a parent is fostering empathy and compassion in our children. Sadly with the pace and the direction our world is going in, it seems that those basic yet important altruistic traits aren’t being developed in our youth like they should be. Yes it is statistically proven violence around the world has generally decreased over the years but it is also apparent our world seems to be more emphatically divided and disconnected. We seem to have more bullying, more teasing and more individuality than in any time since the civil rights movement helped set a morality code of humanity for all. Some will say social media is to blame. Reason being person-to-person contact is diminishing with distant communication methods taking its place thus leading to people freely expressing their negative opinions without a visual display of any hurt they may cause. For evidence, look at any message boards or comment sections with over a hundred comments. They are filled with hatred and disassociation comments. It’s really sad and disappointing. But that me against you attitude doesn’t have to take hold in our kids, does it? No it doesn’t. No. It. Doesn’t. So what can we do? Beyond the traditional talks we give our kids about “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you” we as parents can do one simple thing to help instill that compassion and empathy.
Recently my daughter Dee Dee penciled a circle around wheelchair and crutches from a recent American Girls magazine. These were toys she really wanted for her upcoming birthday. We were not only ecstatic but also really proud of her selection. There were so many other great choices from exotic dollhouses to cool pets to stylish clothes that she could have chosen but she chose equipment that was devised to help people feel better. Wow! We were so proud. Truthfully, I didn’t expect it and was happily caught off guard. We ordered the toys immediately and gave them to her as soon as they arrived. Yes before her birthday. And to see her elated face when she unwrapped her gift was a feeling of pure joy for us parents.
To summarize, along with gratitude, I would argue being unselfish and finding the joy in giving are the most important skills we need to drive home to our kids in today’s world. The world is turning more into a “me, me, me world” and we must fight the tide Therefore, parents, guardians, grandparents, uncles and aunts it’s our job to make sure our kid’s show those injured, hurt or less fortunate the love, respect and tenderness we all want to be treated with. Instead of buying that perfect outfit for your child’s doll strongly consider buying them a wheelchair to roll their doll in. It will not only make your child more empathetic and compassionate (and ultimately happy) but it will also make the world a better place.