Have a Heart.

I watched 2 movies this weekend that really got me thinking. Pan's Labyrinth and The Blind Side. I must say that this is a rarity for me, I'm not generally into watching movies on TV and might do so maybe once a month. Both flicks had young characters in them that were unusually empathetic and compassionate. Granted, the movies are wildly different in content.. but the feelings they left me with were the same. Heart full of happy and eyes all teary. In one, a girl who desperately wanted to save her mother and eventually her little brother. The other, a little boy who uplifted a strange new big brother and helped him to acclimate to a new life.

I got to thinking, how are little kids so compassionate regardless of their upbringing or home situations? Children are so special this way, taking things and people for what or who they are. The kind of child I'm talking about sees another kid get hurt, and wants to help them. They can tell when their mom is sad and will be extra sweet to cheer her up. Seeing homeless people through the backseat window and learning about injustices of the world are things that upset them. Now don't get me wrong, there are definitely some very mean and heartless kids out there. I have no theories for those little people, and feel fortunate that I'm not mothering one of them. For the most part, I believe children have the purest hearts on the planet.

com·pas·sion (noun):
1. A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

So how do I go about instilling this characteristic in my own child? If it's teaching through example, then I have severely dropped the ball in recent history. A couple of years ago when I worked in human services it was much easier. All I had to do was tell my daughter about a typical day at work and BAM - Life lesson on helping others simply because they need help, being a good person, and appreciating everything that you have. Now that I'm just a regular Jane Doe out there in the 9-5 world, we don't come across many instances in which I can point out examples of this wonderful personality trait. That in itself makes me sad.

My mouth gets away from me too often, I spout off mean or heartless things in front of my daughter that is not helping the case for compassion. Whoops. I'm human, I'm working on it. So to make up for that, I really do try to maximize opportunities to practice helping other people. Food drives, donating clothes and toys to organizations that help the "less fortunate," participating in events that support good causes. I need to make sure we do more though, get more involved.. actively work to make a positive difference in someone, anyone's life. If all parents took this type of challenge to heart, could you imagine how many more compassionate kids we would have out there? And what that would mean for their generation in the future? I can only hope that in my strides to teach my daughter the right things, and how to be a good person, that she will at least take one little morsel out of it all:

I hope that she decides to care.

Always Yours, Amanda

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