I’ve been looking for ways to teach myself—and our children—to think of other people and practice empathy. The holiday season naturally inclines me to consider those in our community who are in need, though I realize these considerations must go much beyond only this small piece of the year. As I see empathy growing in the kids and I watch them interact considerately with each other (especially their baby sister), something in me settles knowing that this is one of the greatest gifts, one I’m still unpacking myself.
With this, I have been increasingly mindful of the many material things in life and, at times, how self-absorbed our culture is, I️ think there’s a narrative that perpetuates that we are the center of everything, kids especially. They are indeed, the center of my life in many ways! But the center of the universe they are not, and it wouldn’t be right to leave them with this. There are some things out there (some tv shows, toys, etc) that DO go against the grain, however there is a lot to be said for the opposite and it’s easy to become unshaded by this consumerism and self focused mentality.
That said, I️ will be bringing into focus teaching the kids to do these things alongside me. My hope is to replace some moments of self focus with focus on others, preferring them and learning how to offer ourselves in lieu of people’s needs. The five tasks below are just a few I found to be easy on ramps, especially with smaller kids like mine 🙂
- Writing cards to hospitalized kids—Cards for Hospitalized Kids. This site keeps a database of all kids nationwide requesting cards and gives some really great understanding of how to write to them!
- Pay it forward. This is simply an easy way to bless someone while going about our daily duties. I plan on doing this at Starbucks or a coffee shop (places I can be located most days) but I suppose it could happen anywhere!
- Buying gifts for families and kids in need. The USPS provides a service called Be An Elf that allows people to volunteer, purchase gifts etc. Our church also has provided a program where you can adopt a family and purchase gifts for them. Buying a gift for someone else is good practice for our kiddos (it’s hard for them honestly!) and we know they’ll experience that amazing feeling of giving to another. Anyways, we’ll keep at it 🙂
- Bringing a gift basket and thank you cards to local fire stations, hospitals, doctors, police stations etc. Read around the Internet that a thank you note and things like pie, coffee, brownies, and in special circumstances, steak are warmly welcomed!
- Volunteering locally—VolunteerMatch, Idealist/Action Without Borders, Do Something, or All for Good to name a few. These sites provide databases that help narrow down where you want to serve and in what capacities. They are all nationwide databases so you should be able to utilize them regardless of your location.