Raising Compassionate Kids
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A few weeks ago, we were outside riding bikes with friends when we saw a man whose face was covered in blood. He had fallen off his bike and he was painfully clutching his arm that he suspected was broken. My husband called 911 while my friend and I pulled our kids off to the side.
My six year old, Brinley, immediately started to cry. "I feel so bad for him. He is hurting so much. Mom, I have to go to him!" she said emphatically. I nodded my head and she frantically ran over to where the man and my husband were sitting.
She learned his name and asked him if she could pray for him. My husband later told me the gist of what she prayed. She prayed that he would feel all better and that he would know Jesus and that he would be back in his bed soon. Afterwards, the man said "Amen!"
That night she wanted us all to pray for him as a family and she wondered if he was scared at the hospital and if the doctors and nurses had put bandaids on him or not.
I was just beyond words proud of her that day. I was overjoyed and relieved because I saw her display real compassion. She truly hurt for the man and she felt led to pray for him without any prompting from her parents. Don't get me wrong, this is not always the case in our home. We have plenty of moments where unkind comments are made and I question if my kids will ever grow up to have any ounce of empathy or compassion!
Brinley has had a lot of questions about angels lately, so I had just shared this passage with her from the New Testament:
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. - Hebrews 13:1-3
Isn't this so amazing and so intense? We are supposed to remember those in prison as if we were there ourselves. We need to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters who are hurting as if the burdens were our own. People that are being mistreated--our hearts should break for them! But of course, we can't force our kids to be empathetic. We can't just instruct them to care deeply. As parents, we desperately want to raise compassionate kids, but where do we start?
It all starts with prayer. I love this quote from Jodie Berndt's book Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, where she says:
When you pray that your children will be alert to opportunities to show kindness and compassion, you invite God to help them slip into other people's shoes.
I definitely want more compassion in my own heart and I want my kids to grow to be more compassionate too. Let's go to God and ask Him to soften our hearts and help us to see that each person is a reflection of Him. Each person was made by God and is loved by God. When we are unkind to someone else, we are unkind to His kid! When we show kindness and compassion to someone, we are loving Him.
All month long we will be sharing compassion prayers and blessings that we can pray over our kids. We will also talk about ideas for encouraging and modeling compassion and how to have compassion conversations as a family.
Here is one fun way that Steph and I have started to do in our homes to encourage compassion. We are trying to catch our kids being kind. We made these fun sticker charts so that our kids could be rewarded for going above and beyond to show kindness. We don't want our kids to just do what is expected of them. We are looking to see them find ways to go above and beyond to be a blessing.
Print out your kindness chart here!