Week 47: Helping our Children Build a Better Tomorrow
One day in the not too distant future the world will belong to our children. They will make decisions on the environment, policies on poverty and social services, and be responsible for making decisions about resources, war, and peace. They will be the problem-solvers (and problem-creators) responsible for the well-being of future generations.
How can we support our children and young adults so they become their best selves in a global society? How can we fuel within them a sense of service and civic engagement? How can we expand their minds to include causes bigger than themselves?
Most importantly, how can we help them develop the resolve and confidence they will need so they believe without a shadow of doubt they can make a difference, effect change, and improve the world?
I had the blessing of running this year’s Take Your Child to Work Day at my firm. Approximately 23 children, between the ages of 7 and 16, came out to participate. In addition to movies and sports, we sprinkled in a few STEM activities, and three charitable activities which provided an opportunity to explore compassion and kindness:
- Family Promise’s Houses for Change: Designed to engage youth in the issue of family homelessness and teach the value of compassion, charity and saving, children decorate house-shaped cardboard boxes and then take them home. Over the course of several weeks they collect change, then bring in the gathered donations towards a group gift to a local homeless charity.
- Our Hearts of Hope: Designed to foster kindness and compassion in youth, children paint ceramic hearts and write notes of thanks and kindness which are then dropped off to hospitals for nurses and cancer patients, or to local first responders to thank them. They can also be sent as “hugs of love” to victims of natural disasters and school shootings, etc.
- Blessing Bags: The children stuff essential items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, wet wipes, snacks, socks, etc., into bags to be given to local homeless shelters or given directly to homeless people living on the street.
Childhood and teen years are full of new experiences and exploration. They are also fraught with insecurities, rejection and anxieties. There is a mountain of pressure to fit in socially and perform well both academically and in sports. At the same time, these are the years children begin to make meaning of the world, and their place in it.
They start to realize things are not black and white and begin to work out concepts like justice, mortality and fairness. They begin to construct logical reasoning and develop arguments and opinions. They become aware of global issues such as climate change and resource depletion, social inequality and political adversity, and they sense they have no control over them. They experience intense physical and developmental changes which leave them feeling the ground is continually shifting under their feet.
We, as parents, grandparents and caregivers, have tremendous impact on how our children navigate these essential years. Providing regular volunteer and charitable opportunities will help them build powerful tools they need to navigate this time successfully. Research reveals that children and teens who volunteer regularly are more confident, resilient, and have greater self-esteem than their peers because they learn individual actions can make a difference in the lives of others. They are less affected by social pressures and more satisfied with the things they have because they understand there are others in the world with much less. They become more creative in problem-solving as they begin to think about ways to help others. They learn humility, compassion, and tolerance, which they bring back into their worlds towards others. Because of this, and their stronger self-confidence, they are less prone to depression and bullying.
These foundations become the perspectives and meaning-making tools of their future. They become core values which act as a North Star your children will turn to for guidance throughout their lives. Each of us are already creating the change-makers of tomorrow. Through the experiences we provide and how we interact with our children, we are playing critical roles in raising and mentoring tomorrow’s custodians of the planet. How we help them navigate their current world has direct impact on their future one. Providing regular opportunities for volunteering and charitable activities will help them see that small changes add up to seismic shifts both within themselves and in the world around them. Sharing and discussing these experiences transforms them into value-defining opportunities for personal growth.
One day soon, our children will be in charge. Ask yourself….
Are we preparing our children to be good stewards of the future? Are we preparing them to live fulfilling lives? Are we providing guidance and opportunities which lay the foundation of a future better than today?
Or, are we perpetuating current mindsets, conflicts and adversity? We can transform the power of charity into fuel to help children build a fulfilling life and a better tomorrow for themselves and others.
THANK YOU for joining me on this week’s journey!
I was so fortunate to be able to share these charitable activities with the children at Take Your Child to Work Day. They were PERFECT activities because the children were engaged, creative and had a great time! I’m going to continue to seek out opportunities for children to get involved and give back.
If you want to learn more about these organizations and activities, or if you want to do them at home or with your child’s scout group, sport team, school class, please check out their websites at:
Our Hearts of Hope: https://www.ourheartsofhope.org/
Family Promise: https://familypromise.org/
If you’d like more information on how to create a blessing bag, please check out: https://www.thriftynorthwestmom.com/blessing-bags-assemble-bags-keep-hand-need/
Until next week,
XO XO – Penny