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How to REALLY teach your kids compassion - talk about intentional parenting.  This is a MUST READ!

MidWeek Musing: How to Instill (and Not Just Hope for) Compassion in Our Kids

I’ve been talking to you guys a lot about bully-prevention lately as part of a campaign we’re working on with TakePart.com.  Of course, as a parent of two young children, keeping them safe and happy is a top priority.  But there’s another side to this story too.  Along with ensuring that my kids feel secure in their world, it’s also vitally important to me that they grow up to be compassionate and contributing members of society.

And I don’t just feel this way because I want them to be good people (I do!), but also because I know down to my core that the more caring/giving/compassionate/altruistic my children turn out to be – the happier their lives will be.  I see evidence of this truth all around me.

The people I know that routinely put others’ feelings first always seem to be smiling and reveling in the good in life.  In contrast, the people I know who dwell on the negative, live for “drama”, or focus only on their own needs… well, I’m sure you can guess how happy they are.

So the question is: How do we raise kids that are truly compassionate?

It’s a question I wrestle with quite a bit, especially as I worry that my kids are becoming too entitled. I hope to set a good example both through my actions and through our family’s priorities as my kids grow. But still, I’m a girl who likes specifics – give me some concrete steps to creating compassion and I’ll be all over it!

Which is why, I was so grateful to stumble upon a post from Momastary recently (side note: this is the same awesome blog that published that amazing post “Don’t Carpe Diem“).  I hope Glennon won’t mind that I’m including the beginning here.  My intent, and sincere hope, is to entice you to click through and read the whole thing.

It’s entitled, “The Talk”.  Read it, bookmark it, and for the love of God – share it!

School is beginning.  Many of you have written to ask me what our family “Back to School” traditions are. If I haven’t responded, it’s because I stared at those questions and thought: CRAP. I’m supposed to have Back to School traditions???…

…Also, this: The Talk. We have The Talk with each child at the start of every school year. Our approach changes, but the story doesn’t. The story is always about Adam. Chase knows Adam’s story by heart now, and that is the point.

Please don’t forget to have The Talk. Below is how I do it, but like Rumi said, there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

One way is to copy and paste this letter, change Chase to your kid’s name, and read it together. That’s what my girlfriends do. Totes fine with us:

Hey, baby.

Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.

Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to… READ THE REST HERE.

P.S. One last thing before I go – I’ve recently started a pinterest board for when I find really awesome parenting stuff like the post above.  It’s called Making Connections and I’d love for you to come follow along.



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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindy April 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

What a great post and a great way to share with your child. I actually remember going to my stepbrother’s basketball game once. He was younger than me and had this little friend who was a little bitty thing but full of confidence and happiness. They were doing warm up exercises and one was called “suicides”. All the boys were racing back and forth across the court and at the end, there was one chubby kid trailing all the others. He was the last to finish and was out there in the middle of the court all by himself when he fell down. As we all watched, that little friend of my stepbrother ran out to the middle of the court, helped this kid up and patted him on the back and then ran the rest of the way with him. I was so touched and in awe of his compassion. I can’t even think about it without crying for so many reasons. This post reminded me of that story. One day I will tell my son and daughter this story.


Maggie Caldwell April 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

I like the idea of having your children do better than you did in school re: looking out for the disenfranchised. But it seems a little unfair to ask your children to do something that you couldn’t do. Your kids need to see you loving the disenfranchised person now that you are a grown-up and know better. You need to model the behavior. It is not enough to have your children right your wrongs.


Lia April 28, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I love this story but how would I use it without God in it? We are not raising our son with any organized religion. Any suggestions?



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