Sarah, my daughter, took this picture. We just got back from Haiti last week. We were there with a group of college interns who were rebuilding a widow’s home and working in an orphanage. Watching teenagers and college students get involved with the hurting and devastated people in Haiti reminded me of a principle we talk about in Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. As parents we need to give our children opportunities to become involved with the problems and pain of others. Affluence has a way of turning us inward and fueling our selfishness. Serving others does just the opposite. It helps us remember that we are not the center of the universe. When we care for other people it fuels a perspective that every created human being has intrinsic value. Our sense of value is linked to how we value those around us. The best way to make your children feel significant is not by telling them they are significant, but by giving them something significant to do. Start as soon as you can inviting your children to care for other people. If you want your children to be transformed into kind and compassionate adults, give them plenty of opportunities to help others carry their load. We needed to be in Haiti last week, not because they needed us, but because we needed them. We needed to learn from their struggles. We needed to see their passion. We needed to be reminded that it’s not all about us. We needed to be changed by them.
What are some practical ways you have prompted your children to serve others?