Last week, I attended a cocktail party hosted by my friend Mila. Mila has recently launched a fascinating podcast called Future Hindsight. She describes the podcast as follows: “Future Hindsight is the place where civic engagement meets civil discourse. In conversations with experts, everyday citizens, and activists, we explore the ways in which we all have the power to shape our society …”
How to Teach Your Kids About Civic Responsibility
At the party, I caught up with fellow moms and Mila spoke briefly about her new endeavor.
I came away from the event impressed. Having grown up in a family that was politically astute (both of my parents were active in Connecticut politics and I grew up in a household where we talked about our society, current events and how to change things for the better on a daily basis), I often feel that my own family lives in too much of a bubble. We are so overwhelmed by our daily lives that we don’t talk enough about the responsibility we have to make our society work better for others.
Civic Engagement Activities for Kids
Mila’s venture targets us adults — encouraging us to get involved, to participate in our world. Yet she got me thinking about the generation of kids we parents are raising. So busy are they with school, sports, and activities that they barely have time to notice how others who are differently situated experience their daily lives. How do you get your kids to look outside of their own experiences and see hardship and struggle elsewhere; and to understand as fellow human beings, we are obliged to help?
If you’ve done community service with your kids or encouraged them to help others, please share below!
I haven’t answered that big question, but I do have a happy story to share. Last weekend, I spent four hours with Lachlan making bagged lunches at a neighborhood church soup kitchen. As part of his Catholic confirmation, Lachlan is required to perform ten community service hours. At the church basement, we prepared sandwiches, ladled soup into paper containers, folded napkins, and then packed brown paper bag lunches, popping in hard-boiled eggs and brownies donated by a local woman to complete the task. Then, along with an amazing team of other adults and kids, we handed out the bagged lunches to people who showed up.
As folks entered the church to collect their lunch, Lachlan said “Hello, Sir … Hello, Ma’am” to each and every one and called to them “Have a nice day!” as they left. And on the way home, he said to me: “Mom, let’s go back next week. I don’t need any more service hours for my confirmation, but it’s good to go anyway. It’s good to help the less fortunate.”
This might have been one of my proudest moments as a mom. Although Lachlan’s ten hours are complete, we plan to go back next Sunday and Hedley wants to join in.
For the rest of the day, Lachlan seemed settled and focused to me, and less likely to get involved in a spat with a sibling. Helping others — something I know my family needs to do more of — lifts us up and makes us feel connected, important. These experiences tap into our shared humanity.
Dive into the world and get involved and teach your kids to do the same. It’s a habit that will last a lifetime.
Thank you for reading.
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