Our children are growing up in a world plagued by political feuds, international complications and social issues that can be difficult for them to understand. Furthermore, their level of exposure to these issues has been amplified by access to TV, social media and the internet. Raising children in this climate is one of the major challenges parents face today, and raising kind-hearted children is extremely important to our future.

Modern parents are being tasked with molding a future that stands against the negative messages that are proliferating. We must work to dismiss the anger and bitterness holding us back as humans and setting us back as a people. In an effort to mend and move forward, parents will need to teach their children to be more compassionate, tolerant and embracing of diversity.

But how can we do this?
Your children will only know the world as it is shown to them, and knowledge is power. By educating, exposing and engaging your children in diverse situations, you can take their understanding and appreciation of people to higher levels. By taking only a few moments in your daily routine to encourage your children to embrace diversity, to be tolerant and to show greater compassion for the world, you could be making a difference and setting the tone for a brighter future.

Here are Five Ways to Raise Kind-Hearted Children in Today’s World:

Talk about it
Communication is key. Talk to your children about the challenges we are facing in a way that they can understand. If they are not already hearing about it through the internet or TV, they could be hearing about it at school. An unbiased, educated explanation from their parents trumps playground gossip and dismisses falsehoods. Instead of shielding them from the issues, offer them an explanation and discuss possible solutions. This is their world, too – and we all need to be a part of the solution. (TIP: Not sure where to start? Begin with what they think they know and go from there.)

TV, internet and social media
Use these outlets to your advantage. Show your children the good in the world that is often overlooked by all the negativity that trolls the internet. These same outlets that expose them to hate, bitterness and anger have the ability to show them compassion, understanding and love. Take a moment to show them videos or news stories of people of different talents, exemplary heroes, relief efforts and humankind coming together to support each other. They need to know that there are a great many kind-hearted people in the world, like themselves, that make extraordinary contributions to humankind.
(TIP: For inspirational stories of kids making a difference in the world, check out KidsAreHeroes.org or InspireMyKids.com.)

Exposure
Put the fear of the unknown to rest by educating them. Exposing them to different people, religions and cultural backgrounds can help them to understand the world better. Visit your local library and pick up books on diversity, explore different cultures together, and/or visit cultural festivals or exhibits that broaden their horizons. One of the best ways to learn about and appreciate the world is to experience it.
(TIP: Check out our Calendar of Events!)

Get involved
One of the greatest gifts to receive is the feeling of knowing you made a difference in someone’s life. Volunteering your time as a family to a nonprofit organization, local shelter or food bank can expose children to new people and things they don’t normally see. Show them compassion, and they will feel it.
(TIP: There are so many local organizations that could use your help! Check out VolunteerMatch.org for opportunities.)

Practice what you preach
Children learn through observation, so modeling the same behaviors you expect from them is key. Set the expectation that bullying and racial and cultural insensitivity are unacceptable. Be open to new people and experiences, and they will follow suit. With so many different kinds of people and cultures out there, you can appreciate together all the world has to offer.

Being a parent in today’s world can be a difficult task. We won’t always have the right answers or be able to solve all the world’s problems, but raising our children to be compassionate, tolerant and embracing of diverse people and backgrounds is a hopeful path to a solution. The future rests in our hands, and training the younger generations to be kind-hearted can make a difference in our world.

Now, more than ever, we need to pull together and put a stop to what’s pushing us Apart to make a better future for us all.

Kindness begins at home
There are many ways you can make a difference in your community and foster the seeds of kindness in your child. Here’s a list of some local volunteer opportunities to get you started:

• Elf Louise Christmas Project
• Toys for Tots
• Any Baby Can
• The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
• Salvation Army
• Meals on Wheels
• San Antonio Food Bank
• H-E-B Feast of Sharing 2017
• SAMMinistries
• Family Service Association
• Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas
• Family Violence Prevention Services

By Pamela V. Miller