Thursday, November 19, 2015

Raising a Humanitarian

According to, a humanitarian is having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.

This a hard job for parents being that children themselves are limited in their capacity of understanding.  I noticed this when talking to my son about putting together a shoebox for a child in Uganda for Christmas. When I told him that it was because there were people out there who didn't get toys because their parent's didn't have any money his response was simply, "Don't worry because Santa will give them toys."

How does a parent respond to that without ruining the idea of Santa Claus? I wasn't quite ready to crush his dream and wake him up to the fact that I stay awake until three in the morning trying to get the best deal on toys.

I explained to him that Santa gives people what they need to be happy.  I told my son that since he has what he needs to keep his belly full and his bed comfy, Santa will be bringing him gifts. So Santa will be giving these people food, water, and a home because they don't have that. Our family had to be 'Santa's Helpers' and help give toys to the little boy in need.

This seemed to hold him over and he even gave up one of his own gifts to put in the shoebox. But I wonder how many other parents have this problem? Now that we're in the midsts of a modern civil rights movement, it's more important than ever to make our children culturally aware.

My child is not American with African Decent. He is not Arabic or Jewish. Even though his father is of Mexican decent, I don't believe that he'll succumb to the discrimination that the former mentioned will.

Will he even notice if a child of a different color is treated unfairly? I feel like it's a social responsibility of the modern parent to raise a generation of humanitarians.

A generation that will recognize racial, economical, and religious discrimination and have that notion inside them to make their environment a better place.

How do we achieve it? You can't expect a 5 year old to sit through presentations about social justice. You do it by example. Children are like sponges and pay attention to everything you do whether you think they're watching or not.

Whatever you put out to this world, your child is the first person to catch it. Gone are the days that you can shelter your child from the evils of the world. Not when there are shootings in elementary schools, drugs getting into the hands of 6th graders, and massacres happening more and more frequently.

The holiday season is a gateway to start discussion. I'm not saying open Pandora's Box and show them pictures of a bombing's aftermath. Maybe start with a shoebox. Start with planting something. Start by taking a walk in a city and seeing the homeless people on the street.

If we instill respect into this generation and love for their fellow man, we will leave a legacy and value in this world.

Taking Religion out of Humanitarianism

One of the biggest things that I find baffling is that a lot of (obviously not all) charity or volunteer opportunities have a religion based mission statement.

If that's what you want to do, that's amazing. I don't find a problem with teaching your kids the moral and theological code of a deity. It's provides structure and for the most part has a good message. What I don't agree with is making it seem like that is the only reason why you do things.

I don't want my son to think he has to do so many good deeds in order not to spend eternity in a fiery pit. I don't want him to think that if he makes a mistake, that his first reaction should be to grovel.

Raising a a child who cares about his fellow man should be just that. Care about other so that the receiver will be influences to spread kindness to another and the chain continues.

If one makes a mistake, separate the act from the person.  Explain that your son or daughter is not a bad person, that he/she has a good heart and is a good boy/girl. However doing said act does this and makes whoever feel whatever way.

That way the child knows that they did was wrong, but doesn't identify the self as being bad. If they are able to see this within themselves, they will be able to have that grace with other people.

This can also open up a dialog as to better express their feelings, rather than acting primitively. But it also gives them a sense of taking personal responsibility.

How does this all tie back into religion?

I feel like a lot of both positive and negative actions hide behind a deity or prophet. Do good to your fellow because (blank) teaches us to. We had to punish these types of people because (doctrine) told us to.

You're creating a shadow that allows kids to hide with their actions or words.

Remove that shadow and they're left with themselves. They have to be able to identify what they're feeling, how to deal with it, and how to make it right.

Once again, I am all for following whatever religious sect you want. But you can still teach kids to take responsibility for their actions and separate the act from the self; knowing they'll be able to do the same with others.

From there your children will find grace and tolerance for other people.