this a re-post from 11.24.2008


after a conversation i had with my husband last night, a question has been on my mind all day: how do you teach compassion?

i read this post this morning and it brought me to tears. i know that there are many, many people around the world (even in our own country) that suffer, and my heart aches for them. but how do you teach that? how do you teach people to feel and connect with others at that level?

especially as a parent, how do we teach compassion to our children? you can teach them that it's good to help others who are in need of help. but where does the idea of "helping because it's the right thing to do" transcend into helping because your heart is sympathetic to the person's suffering?

there are people who choose to give their time and/or money to charities because it's the right thing to do. or perhaps they were made to feel guilty into giving. or because the money they give or the time they commit x number of hours a month looks good on their resume. but what do you truly gain from that? i was guilty of that especially when i began to prepare myself for college. i participated in school sponsored community service activities. helped out on my own time at the food bank. but truly, what was it for? just one more thing to check off on my college application. in all honesty, after i got into college, never once did i take the time to offer my time in the community. how does it help others in need when the only time or money you're willing to sacrifice is when it's beneficial for you? obviously, i did not fully understand the meaning of compassion (and i was technically already an adult).

so how do you teach compassion (to children and adults)? there's probably no way to truly teach compassion. i know that as parents, all we can do to teach them about compassion is by showing compassion to others. not simply giving money to this charity or that organization when it's convenient for us. but to give our money sacrificially. or to give our time in serving our community, whether it be to a charitable organization or helping a friend who is suffering. we can show our children what compassion is all about by striving to live out what it means on a daily basis.


Simply Stork said...

oh to find compassion...that is a great question to ponder. The most wonderful thing i love to see from my children...once when my son who did not want his little brother to sleep outside in the back yard with him and his older sister for fear of him getting afraid as soon as it got dark...so he came inside and built him a tent in his room to sleep in instead. so sweet!


Jan said...

I don't think compassion is something we "teach" our children--I think it's something we demonstrate through our actions. Compassion is the observance of suffering and the desire to allievate it. Many of us observe, but only a few have a true desire to allievate it. I believe that if we continually take the step to say to others in need, in whatever way, "How can I help you?" And then take action to help, our children will understand that this is the right thing to do. Is that teaching them "compassion?" Maybe. They won't know it as that word yet, but witnessing people they love consistently taking action to help will mold them into adults who eventually find the word and the mission.

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