By Kelly Scarola, MS
It is no secret that being a parent today is full of pressure and the tendency to measure our own worth by the perceived success of the “super moms” and “super dads” we see on Facebook and Pinterest. Although I don’t always feed my children organic foods, make my own bread, grow my own veggies or sew their Halloween costumes myself- I know that I am a good parent.
Deep in the heart of my path as a mother lies the drive to raise children who will be successful; success in this sense is not related to wealth- which is often how our society defines success. Rather, the mark of success for my family is being a force for good in the world.
I have an inherent desire to teach my children to help others. I want kindness to be their natural routine. Kindness is taught. Our children do not become what we tell them to be; our children become what we model for them. It is with this notion that Teach Your Children Well was born.
Teach Your Children Well is a group of families on Long Island, New York interested in participating in service projects with their children. It is an ideal way of spending time together while giving back to our community. It fosters kindness and responsible citizenship. It is a method of teaching our children that service is not just something we do once in a while to earn a merit badge or complete an assignment. It is a practice that we consciously choose every-day, and which then becomes second-nature.
Projects that Teach Your Children Well have completed have ranged from collecting, organizing and donating school supplies for homeless children through Operation Backpack- to donating items needed for the Child Life Program at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, and the Ronald McDonald House. Our next project planned is to visit an Assisted Living Facility to bring some joy to the residents.
However, it is important to remember that giving back to the community does not have to be an organized project. It does not have to be something that is done in conjunction with other families; it does not have to take copious amounts of time or effort; it does not have to be publicized. Giving back can be simple- and cost nothing. We are responsible for the character education of our children, and raising kindness starts in the community and at home.
Some ideas for helping in the community are:
Holding the door for someone
- Bringing in a neighbors garbage pail
- Saying “thank you”
- Smiling at others
- Asking for donations instead of gifts
- Each holiday (birthdays/Easter/Christmas/Hanukkah) donate your “previously loved” toys to a worthy cause
- Donating outgrown clothes/furniture
- Leaving post-its with kind messages around town
- Cleaning up a local park
Kindness can also be practiced at home:
- Saying please and thank you to each other
- Making a sibling’s bed
- Doing a sibling’s chore
- Complimenting one another
- Saying “I love you”
- Lots of hugs
The point is we want to bring joy to our families and joy to others. Teaching our children to be of service, be kind, and be empathetic is a fabulous way of doing this. Remember, giving back doesn’t have to be an inconvenience or hard work. It can be- and should be- fun! If you are interested in starting a group like this in your neck of the woods- check out this post!!
How do you make kindness a part of your family?
Kelly once had a dream of becoming an Academy Award-winning actress; naturally she earned herself a Master’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education. What sparks her fancy now is becoming a better human, raising two good small humans, and having as much fun as possible while doing it. You can find her with her nose in a book, binge-watching documentaries, or doing laundry on Long Island.