Raising Compassionate Kids: Find a Need and Fill It
Kids want to make a difference.
This current generation, also known as the Millennials, are doers. They don’t want to just sit in church and hear about faith. They want to see and be a part of how it makes a difference in the real world.
In The Millennials, a book by Thom S. and Jess W. Rainer, Jess (a millennial herself) writes, “Three out of four Millennials believe it is their role in life to serve others. If 75 percent of Millennials begin to serve others, the impact for the future will be significant.”
It is true that younger kids do seem to be more eager and receptive to serve. As they hit the teen and preteen years, a whole lot of entertaining options are vying for their time and attention.
But don’t let the pushback fool you, moms. Once you get past that “I don’t want to do this” attitude, you’ll find that most preteens and teens genuinely enjoy helping others — just as much as the little kids.
Every year, our church has “Compassion Month” where our church fans out across the community and actively engages in a flurry of service projects — from changing oil for widows and single moms to performing household repairs and other tasks for anyone in need.
One year, as a family we went to an elderly woman’s home who was going blind. She could no longer see well enough to clean and pull weeds around her house.
After some initial grumbling and complaining about giving up their Saturday, my kids went after the project with gusto — even recruiting some friends to come along and help.
At some point in the day, they both gave her a big hug and told me, “It feels good to help someone. It was actually really fun!”
So, what kind of project can you do with your kids this month?
Here are a few ideas:
- Call the local Homeless Shelter and ask them if your family can help serve a meal.
- Bake cookies for a local police department or fire station and deliver them with a note thanking them for their service.
- Visit a local nursing home and ask the staff about residents who didn’t get many visitors. Stop in and brighten their day.
- Do you know an elderly neighbor or a single mom who could use some help around their house? Whether it’s yard work, painting or household repairs, kids of all ages can help in some way.
- Christmas is coming. Call your church office and ask them if they have any names of needy families in the church. Find out the ages and sizes of the kids. Go shopping as a family and let the kids pick out toys and clothes for the children. Do it anonymously.
Every time we give to others, our kids get a a glimpse of the compassion and love Jesus shows toward us. It enables them to see faith in action — not just as a set of “dos and don’ts” or a lofty set of principles that don’t apply to everyday life.
Your effort may start out as a “one-time” project.
But don’t be surprised if your kids ask for more.
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