Today I am pleased to share a guest post by Chris Singleheart. She gives very practical ways you can develop your child’s social conscience.
When I was pregnant with my fourth child, a co-worker asked me, “How could you want to bring a child into this world?” He was so down on life that he couldn’t understand how anyone would deliberately procreate. How sad, and yet how plausible if you don’t have proper training. His question expressed hopeless resignation, making me even more determined to raise good citizens.
Being a good citizen includes having a sharp social conscience. It means when you see a problem, you don’t look the other way. Some may call me a dreamer, but I consider myself a blend of a dreamer and a believer. I truly believe that one person can make a difference, and I want my children to be difference-makers.
Do you want your child to be more aware of the society they live in and perhaps even become a leader of social action? Here is a plan that can help make social consciousness a way of life for them.
It’s never too soon for a child to make a practical impact in society. They just need some direction. Point out needs and create opportunities for them to meet them.
When leaving a park, a trail or a playground I would instruct my young children to leave the place better than when we found it. Other people’s trash that was left behind was put into the proper receptacles. It’s a small thing, but it makes the experience better for the next family.
If we back up and consider our kids’ life on earth, the same principle can be applied. A good parent will desire their child to improve the world in which we live.
Start the Conversations
When my children were all quite young, I was able to hold an at least semi-regular devotion time. Most mornings, before school, we would read a “sticky situation” from family devotional. We would discuss the dilemma, and the kids, which included a neighbor, would propose possible solutions to the problems.
This was preparation for looking out for others, noticing wrongs, and learning how to react to them. At this point, I was helping them to articulate their thoughts on ethical topics.
Teach Them the Bible
God tells us how to engage in an unjust world through the narratives and instruction in His Word, the Holy Bible. His Spirit can be counted on to give insight, prompting us to respond.
Through the words of Scripture, God invites us to join in His cause. God’s Justice Bible, published by Zondervan, highlights God’s concern for justice. There is no better source for instruction than the speech of God. There is no higher authority.
Talk About Current Events
Direct your child’s attention to local, national and international news stories. Emphasize justice issues. Engage them in dialogue with the goal of understanding what it may be like to live in that particular area.
Now the temptation may be to shield children from the “bad” news, but this is the wrong approach! By avoiding negative news items, we inadvertently raise children (future adults) to be ignorant of others’ trials and they wind up not giving a hoot. If we want our son or daughter to be able to empathize, they need to be shown the ugly truth. Evil exists, and the Christian parent must become skilled at counteracting it.
Operation World is a useful resource to have in the home. This fact-filled guide is an excellent tool for increasing global awareness. When we become informed ourselves, we can better inform our children. I myself am a learner, not an expert.
Foster Cultural Appreciation
Our nation is growing increasingly diverse, and the reality is that racism, prejudice, discrimination and other forms of bias continue to affect us. Help your child respect, value and celebrate various cultures, reminding them they are part of a global community.
Let them Discover
Formal devotions worked when my children were younger, but as they grew, school times became staggered. The routine no longer suited our schedule, so I adopted “sneaky devotions.” At this time in their lives, there are less hypothetical situations and more true to life circumstances.
In the car and at the dinner table, we discuss the happenings of the day. It is in real time and often one-on-one. The experiences are real and so are the emotions: confusion, shock, disgust, anger. Allowing them to process these feelings, I ask probing questions and prod them to harness those reactions for good.
If you want your children to become world-changers, you’ve got to model it yourself. When you see injustice and do nothing, you communicate you just don’t care. Take a close look at where you are quiet and resist neutrality. Become active against oppression. Respond to injustice.
Shaping our children’ social conscience helps to build a world of peace and love. Conversation gets kids thinking. Commiseration gets them feeling. The Word of God beckons them to act, and the demonstration of social consciousness gives them an example to follow.
As a faith-inspired social justice advocate, I am dedicated to denouncing injustice and committed to dismantling it. I challenge people at every turn, including children. I hope you will as well. Keep fighting the good fight, and our children will be sure to leave the earth better than when they arrived.
- How are you fostering your child’s social conscience?
Chris Singleheart is a freelance writer and speaker. She is a pastor’s wife, church co-planter and a mom to six. Chris lives a life of meaningful action by promoting human welfare and empowering others. She has done extensive volunteer work with numerous organizations and has made it her mission to further the advancement of those less fortunate. Visit her blog at chrissingleheart.com for inspiration, practical ideas and free eBook: The ABCs of Social Consciousness.