Growing up, have you ever wondered what your purpose in life was? Did your parents tell you how you can make a difference in the world or did they only care if you did well in school or played your piano?
Like a lot of other moms, I have spent a lot of effort on helping my kids with academics, trying different hobbies, and even helping to build their social skills. Weekends are spent driving them to different music, drawing and sport classes, taking them on play dates and to birthday parties. I have almost forgotten how important it is to help them find a meaning purpose in this world until recently a school project made me reflect on what I have been missing on my parenting agenda.
My son’s school had been learning about wildlife animal protection over the last month and the kids had been visited by the Toronto Wildlife Centre to learn all about what they can do to protect the wild animals in the world. The children each designed their own postcard which is a picture of what they thought people can do to protect the animals. Toronto Wildlife Centre then made their designs into real postcards and each child received 25 copies to use to raise money for the Centre. When I saw J’s postcard, it took me a few minutes to figure out what he drew (drawing is really not J’s strength). He explained to me that it is a picture of a person throwing plastic into the ocean and he in his wiggly handwriting he wrote “Do not throw plastic into the ocean” and told me with in a very serious tone “if you throw plastic into the ocean, the fishes will eat them and they will die!”.
Next I read the notes from the teacher which explained to us what to do with the cards and why they are doing it.
I looked at J and said “Looks like we have to sell these cards and raise some money to help the wild animals.”
“YES! We have to sell all of them” J responded with determination.
“Well, if you want to sell the postcards, you will have to explain to people why you are selling them. Can you do that?”
“Ok…” he said with some hesitation.
“We can do this, mommy will help you!” I said encouragingly him (while I worried about not being able to make enough sales.)
A little bit of background here, my almost 6 year-old isn’t the most confident public speaker and that is something I have been working on with him. This is due to the fact he has a moderate hearing loss that we discovered at age 3.5. J has had a severe speech/language delay which resulted in him being less confident in his oral communication skills. Even though over the last two years, he improved so much on his speech and is now at par with his peers, his confidence level isn’t exactly there yet.
Okay, so we were on a mission to sell the cards. Honestly, I’m not the type of person who normally goes to ask people for donations. So this time both J and I had to step out of our comfort zone to go out and ask for donations. I got J to practice his lines and we even made a little promotional video. Then we headed over to our friend’s house. Jacob was so happy to get his first donation and felt more confident the next time he asked another friend. He told his “donors” that “the money is used to save the animals”. As his stack of postcards got less and the zip lock bag got heavier with all the coins, his confidence went up at the same time. We still have some more cards to sell, but we are pretty certain we can sell them all. This has been a quite fun and rewarding experience both for me and J, but most importantly it made me reflect on what I really need to teach my kids. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to focus on the academics and sign them up for piano lessons and sports teams. I’m only saying that we should also remember to teach our kids how they can make a difference.
As a mom, I realize that we can and should teach our children how to find meaningful purpose in the world even young age. While we help them to develop different talents and skills, we should help them to find a cause that they are passionate about and help them to see how they can make a difference in people (or animals in this case)’s lives. This will not only help build up their confidence but can help develop their self-worth. When they have a purpose and mission, they are more likely to learn to overcome obstacles and succeed as young adults.
“The sense that your personal life is meaningful to you is a cornerstone of psychological well-being,” says Michael F. Steger, director of the laboratory for Meaning and Quality of Life at Colorado State University. Not only that, it is “tightly tied to being happier, more positive, more confident, more caring, more helpful, more resilient, and more satisfied in your life, relationships, and work.”(Source:Time.Com)
I encourage moms to really take time to help kids to get involved in some kind of charity activity. Here are some ideas for your inspiration.
- Donate used clothing to Salvation Army
- Run a lemonade stand in the summer to raise money for a charity
- Set aside a donation jar in the house and encourage kids put in part of their allowance in
- Make birthday parties charitable by donating all the toys to children without toys
- Take part in helping out at church or community fundraising events
- Sponsor a child and get your kids to write to them, send gifts to them.