Giving selflessly is truly the highest of human virtues. If you are already on a path of self-actualization through mindfulness meditation and other practices, contributing to others is already a part of your goals.
As a parent of tweens you maybe observing that it seems very unlikely that your child could or would want to adopt a goal or contributing to other at this time in their lives. It seems like they would much rather be spectators, or commentators on the social media channels.l
How do you increase compassion in your child’s world, largely fueled on negativity, social pressure and materialism?
First try to relate to your tween by exercising completely nonjudgmental compassion For a moment contemplate his or her heartfelt longing to be accepted, to belong to a group, and to be ”somebody”? This is serious business in the world of your tween child. For many kids of this age, social isolation can lead to hopelessness, and then to desperate behavior harmful to themselves or other. Even for the “in-group” , there is an underlying sense of troubled waters – tenuous friendships and pressure to be unkind to others.
Now visualize a completely different way of life: a path of grace and gentle humor, featuring an open heart, acceptance, a natural sense of proportion about the ups and downs of life. Realize how joyful and confident you feel when helping others without judgment or expectations
How can you help your tween to actualize the wonderful personal quality of selfless contribution?
First understand for yourself, and help your child grasp, the concept of selflessness. It is not the same as self sacrifice. We are not meant to hurt ourselves to make others happy. Think of selflessness as the strength and confidence to pay full attention to another, to listen to their needs and help – without placing the judgmental self in the way. Instead of analyzing the other person with our heads, we can peacefully observe and accept them with our hearts.
Try to consciously practice this shift in your own communications, and then start to discuss your experiences with your child, Keep your discussions completely truthful, not watered down.
At times when your tween opens up about situations at school, their friends circle or in the news, come from a mindful place in your responses. Through these discussions your child can experience the beauty of mindful non-judgment that is not preachy or dogmatic, but rooted in clear observation and compassion.
In time, you can find many ways for your tweens to practice compassionate contribution from a place of wisdom:
- Volunteer at food distribution or holiday meals for the poor, treating all the people you serve with kindness, not pity
- Invite a lonely child from school to the library
- Do chores for grandparents and elderly neighbors without expectation of reward
- Help parent of young kids by offering to spend time with their child doing crafts while the parent take a much needed break
Soon, your tweens will come up with their own ideas to contribute – and may invite you to join them!