Guest Post by Allie Slocum
Have you ever sat back one minute sighing in satisfaction at the joys of homeschooling, only to need to break up a brawl in the next? We all want compassion in our homes, but it can be elusive.
In this garden metaphor, you can find the right fertilizer, sow seeds that work for your family, and then cultivate compassion.
Cultivate means to prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening by breaking up (soil) in preparation for sowing or planting.
Sometimes we have to break up the bad soil in our child(ren)’s heart-gardens before we can plant the seeds of compassion. You can fertilize love as you address issues as they spring up. Don’t sweep them under the carpet.
Remember you have a common enemy as a family trying to break you apart. Keep the devil’s tricks in the forefront of your conversations. Pull them out like bad weeds. When arguments erupt, point out the part he is playing. Let your kids know they have to come together to fight the devil to protect the family’s peace. “Give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). Don’t let the devil win.
Once you’ve broken up the soil, apply your fertilizer. That’s the second definition of cultivate: to try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill). In this case it’s the quality (or virtue) of compassion.
5 seeds to sow compassion
Listed below are five seeds to sow compassion in your child’s heart. Choose the variety that you think will grow best in your family’s garden.
- Invite: Forcing someone to show compassion isn’t cultivating. An invitation is a gentle way to lead by example. Find things you can do for your friends, neighbors, or relatives. It may take longer to accomplish your goal, but invite your child(ren) along each and every time.
- Face (To Face) Time: When a child has one-on-one time with a parent, they feel more loved, comfortable and accepted. This can lead to sharing that love with other people. Do something special with each one of your kids on a rotating basis as often as you can. Ideas: play their favorite game, take a walk or bike ride, get their favorite treat, or let them pick The opportunities are endless.
- Listen: When your child says something to you, stop what you are doing and listen. (Put that phone down.) Ask follow up questions. It’s a great idea to have some ready and then really listen to your child’s answer. Examples: If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you want to go? Describe your perfect day. What is a quality you wish you had more of?
- Family Night: It’s important to have “whole family together time” as often as possible. We’d cook a simple clean-up meal. A different family member would plan the whole evening for everyone. We spent time looking at old pictures, creating back rub chains, or using our story apron to make up tall tales. It’s so fun to see what the youngest ones present. (Editor’s Note: Here are some favorite family game night ideas recommended by KC-area homeschoolers!)
- One Thing: Invite God to give you ONE THING to tell ONE member of your family each day. This requires you to take the time to invite (1) Him into the process and listen (3) for His ideas. This is great way to practice modeling for your kids. Let them know that God gave you the words and His wisdom can be trusted.
These are just a few “gardening” tips to cultivate compassion in your home. If you’d like a fun and free compassion challenge for your family to do together, contact Allie at email@example.com.
About Allie Slocum:
Allie Slocum’s passion to introduce children to strong character values is what drives her to write the Character Club series and Character Club Lil Sibs Series. Slocum loves living & hiking in Colorado making memories with her husband, two teenage daughters, and golden retriever. She teaches gifted and talented K-5th graders at her local elementary school. Learn more at www.CharacterClubOnline.com.