One of the most important things that I want to pass on to my children is to care about other people. I want my kids to learn empathy for others whether in their classroom, their family or their friends. I also want my kids to know the positive impact that they can have on other people just by being kind.
On a larger scale, I want my kids to know what it means to take part in philanthropy and charity. I want my kids to learn the definition of the word community and apply it to their everyday lives.
I have often been thinking about how to begin instilling these values at an early age. The obvious daily occurrences of teaching please, thank you and the meaning of share and sorry are beginning to stick with my oldest (2 years). However, in the next year, as he is entering 3 years old and above, I want to begin with more important work that would involve participation in philanthropy.
I want my kids to collect food for food pantries, keep the environment clean, build a house for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at Special Olympics Connecticut events and donate time and energy into local activities of our community. Some say that it is not necessary to focus on charity at such a young age as children do not have the emotional maturity to understand, but I feel that if the action becomes a family routine, then the understanding and caring will follow in due time.
In our society, there has been a decline in the amount of community service that children are taking part in. Studies have shown that most participate in their high school years where the experience will look good on college applications. These studies say we live in an age of entitlement where the fine line of praising and supporting our children's self esteems has crossed into creating selfish personalities. Studies also show that because of the economy, people have cut back on taking part in community activities.
It is important to have our children not just want to have a good college resume, but also to care about their environment and the people, animals and nature that encompass it. I want my children to respect themselves, others and their environment. In doing so, they will learn self-confidence and be happier and healthier.
The only way to get the kids on track is if the parents lead by example. We have to show our kids the importance of being compassionate of their surroundings.