Social responsibility-that is, a personal investment in the well-being of others and of the planet-doesn’t just happen. It takes intention, attention, and time.
— Sheldon Berman, “Educating for Social Responsibility,” Educational Leadership, November 1990
Kianna carefully brushed another layer of clear nail polish on Rose’s hands. Rose and her friends at the nursing home were being pampered that morning with manicures. In a group made up by mostly college students and young adults Kianna, a fourth grader, stood out.
While Kianna’s age difference drew attention, her youth was embraced and enjoyed by the nursing home residents. More remarkable than her age was her willingness to help. At her mother’s side she had nail files and lotion in hand waiting to for a need. And she begged to be able to paint color on Roses’ nails but she was only allowed to do clear polish.
I loved getting to work aside this mother daughter team for both Kianna’s refreshing enthusiasm and her mother’s dedication to fostering in her child’s concern for others–two things you don’t see very much.
Studies show that according to the nation’s adults, the burden of moral education lies on teachers, not parents. However, more statistics show that there’s not much room for finger-pointing. We’re in a full-on compassion crisis.
According to this study, 64% of 18-25 year-olds think getting rich is the most important goal for their generation Sadly, only 12% believe that helping others is the most important goal.
Here are some of the resources I’ve come across that have good content for helping parents cultivate a sense of social responsibility in their young citizens:
The Raising Happiness section of Greater Good is dedicated to exploring the science behind happier kids and parents.
Learning to Give
Learning to Give has a large database of philanthropy education resources to teach giving and civic engagement. Their Parents section is tailored to adult who are looking for character education materials. Raising Kids Who Give, Care and Share goes through how philanthropy fits into a child’s life at various age groups. http://learningtogive.org/parents/
This is a great blog about a mother’s quest for intentional parenting of her two daughters. I recently re-posted a piece by author Rachel Macy Stafford about her youngest daughter’s heart for service and how her parenting helped develop this. www.handsfreemama.com/
This is the third and final post in a The Silver Lining Chronicles blog series on creating socially responsible citizens. In the first post Creating Socially Responsible Citizens (Pt. 1), I discussed the importance of encouraging community service in children at a young age. In Part 2: In the Classroom I mention ways for teachers to encourage social responsibility in their classrooms.