Compassion MOPS Blog
Build a Compassionate Family
As a mom, you have a unique platform for influencing the world as you raise the children in your home. You may have thought that you need to wait until your children are older to begin teaching them to care about others and the world around them, but you can build a compassionate home right now!
You are modeling compassionate behavior, even before you think your children can understand what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.
Here are 10 ideas for ways to model compassion and help raise children who will grow up to be adults who love others well and give of themselves freely.
1. Pray together for others daily, both people you know personally and those you don’t, being sure to pray for people who do not have the material wealth we do here in America. Sometimes when your family comes together at dinner, it is hard to pray before the meal other than a quick blessing, because the children (or dad!) are hungry and ready to eat. That’s okay. You can thank God for the meal, eat while you talk about who to pray for and why, and THEN have your family prayer time. If your family does not come around the table together for dinner regularly, you will need to find another regular time of family prayer. Any activity that has always been on the schedule and part of the family routine is easier to maintain than if you start later in their lives when your children are older.
2. Serve in your community and in your church, as a mom and also as a family. What are you passionate about as a mom? What gets your family excited? That’s where you can serve with joy, and your children will take note. There are endless possibilities for service in your church and your community. Speak to the volunteer coordinator at your church to find your perfect spot. In your community, consider opportunities for service at homeless shelters, animal shelters, food banks, senior centers, nursing homes, schools, libraries and much, much more. Talk to your fellow MOPS moms to find other opportunities.
3. Make a plan to give spontaneously. It seems contradictory, but it really works. Mercy bags are a great thing to have in your car, your diaper bag, and even your purse. For the car, fill up a few gallon-sized storage bags each with several items, such as a clean pair of socks, a protein bar, a toothbrush and a bar of soap. If you have a favorite encouraging scripture, you can include that, too. Now when you come across a homeless person, you can give them a little something useful. For the diaper bag and/or your purse, pack a few quart-sized baggies each with an individually packaged wet wipe, a small packet of snack crackers, and a mini box of raisins. When you come across that frazzled mom in the grocery store, you can give her a little something to help her child get through the checkout line, while blessing her with a moment’s peace.
4. From very early in your child’s life, say “Thank you” every time he or she or another person hands something to you and “You’re welcome” every time someone says “thank you.” You are illustrating that there is a meaningful exchange when something passes from one person to another.
5. Make a regular habit of counting your blessings, on your own and as a family. Bedtime prayer is a great time to articulate this. Grateful people are giving people.
6. When you encounter an ambulance, police car or fire truck, make a point to pray aloud, right where you are, for all of the people involved, those needing help and those providing assistance. If you do this even when you are alone, it will create a habit so that when you are with your family, you will not forget. This practice supports a focus on others.
7. When you see a member of the military in uniform, or anyone wearing something to indicate they are a veteran, thank them for volunteering their time in our military. Teach your children to do the same. It might feel uncomfortable at first, if this has not been your habit, but it is such a small act that can make a big impact on that person, on you, and on your children.
8. Take meals to other people regularly. When you find out a person has a need —whether the person is sick or having surgery or just lost a job or a house or a loved one — make a point to provide a meal. It can be simple and inexpensive. Take your children with you for the delivery or invite the person to your home. Offer to pray with the recipient of your meal.
9. Go on a family mission trip and engage yourselves in the plight of those living in poverty in around the world. Experiencing the reality of impoverished people often springboards the heart into further action.
10. Sponsor a child through Compassion International. Building a long-term relationship through sponsorship, letter-writing, and even possibly visiting a child who is just like yours, despite their circumstances, is an extremely rich and rewarding way to live out compassion and service to others.