We try really hard to instill the notion of doing good and having compassion for others in our children. We talk about how one small act of kindness can have lasting affects on the people we encounter, and that the most sincere forms of kindness and generosity have no strings attached. We shouldn’t do good deeds for something in return. A simple “hello, how are you?” to a new friend in class, giving our time to a cause in our community, giving what we can to charity, sending a positive message to a troubled friend – all things that can produce a sense of gratitude in the receiver, and an uplifted spirit in the sender.
We really encourage the power of the “pay it forward concept”, as there is a ripple of good deeds and generosity that widens from one simple act of kindness. Every action has an equal or more intense reaction – good produces more good. Being kind brings out kindness. It’s as simple as that and the world needs more of it. And it’s starting to sink in with our children, especially the older kids. Ty has come home from school on several occasions happily exclaiming “Mommy, I filled someone’s bucket today!” Brody has made us proud winning the “Compassion” award for showing kindness and empathy to his peers. Not trying to brag here. The real joy and reward is seeing how being good to others makes them happy, and makes them want to do more of it and that’s a parenting pay off.
In all of this, though, the big message is “do good for the good of it” and also, it’s not what you have in life, but rather what you do and give with what you have. We try to teach the difference between acts of kindness that have selfish, underlying purposes – an image boost, publicity stunt, profit surge or tax break, for instance – and those that are genuine and whole-hearted. “Appearing good” and doing good are not one in the same. We discuss integrity and that the truest revelation of one’s character is how they behave behind closed doors – when no one’s watching. Good deeds, kind acts and generosity should evolve from a place of good intention – the intentions of love, kindness, compassion – not self-interest.
During the holidays especially, we really try to highlight that it is not what we get, but what we give that holds the greatest reward. And giving does not have to cost anything. It could simply mean our time, our kind words. So, in the spirit of the holidays, we are busy thinking of ways to be a light to others in the festive weeks ahead. We know our children are shaped largely by how they see us behave and interact with the world. We want them to see us “doing good”.
What meaningful ways does your family give back during the holidays or throughout the year?