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We all want to be better parents.
I’ve never met a parent who didn’t want the best for their children. In fact, we all have big dreams for our children. Regardless of whether they’re in diapers or they’re about to get their diploma, we do what we can to shape the future trajectory of our kids and set them up for success in life. We enroll them in music lessons, traveling sports, tutoring classes, and competitions, and inspire them to get better at their unique talents, celebrating them all along the way. That’s what we do as parents, and it’s one of the best parts of the job.
When it comes to enriching the lives of my children, my first thought was to teach them a skill, enroll them in a sport, or get them in private lessons until I met someone who did something so drastic and bold that it got me rethinking how we shape the future.
Kirsten was living the American dream: A six figure salary, married with two kids, and living in a city that receives rewards year after year for being the “best place to raise a family.” When her children were in the 3rd and 4th grades, she and her husband made a surprising decision to move to the much less affluent area of East Aurora. Here is her story in her own words.
We moved despite warnings from friends and family that we were sacrificing our children’s safety and education; not because we wanted to “save” East Aurora, but because we wanted to “save” ourselves and our children from materialism and economic/cultural segregation.
Today my eldest son was accepted into both Yale and Stanford despite attending schools where less than 40% of students meet state standards. Both of my sons have thrived academically and learned life-lessons beyond anything they could have experienced in Naperville. We have been richly blessed by living in East Aurora.
While few will be called to relocate to an under-resourced neighborhood, we can all make engaging with the outcasts and marginalized of society a priority in our lives.
The reality is that many of us may not move out of our neighborhood and into a poverty-stricken area, but we can engage. We can…
Treat others with dignity.
Be a voice for the powerless in society.
Anytime we contribute or serve, our kids’ worldviews expand. Our kids’ faith grows, their relational intelligence and awareness increases, and a seed of generosity is planted. And, the same happens for us.
A quick Google search will present dozens of organizations in your town that do all of the hard work of coordinating service projects. They just need volunteers to help. This week, try finding one way to serve others in your community and make an appointment to do so. You could…
Volunteer at a local shelter.
Organize a local food pantry.
Help with a coat drive.
Visit a nursing home.
Hand out blankets to the homeless.
Mentor children in schools.
Become a respite foster family.
However you choose to serve, be honest with your teenager about it. Tell him or her why you chose to serve and how you felt about it afterward. In doing so, you’re modeling that caring for others is a big deal to your family. And, the next time you go, your teen might just say “yes” when you invite them to come along.
©2016 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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