Having interacted with a lot of kids over the course of my life leaves me recognizing differences. Now of course, every child is not only a reflection of their parents, but also of their own will and personality, so this is not a one-to-one correlation of effects. But I have noticed a few trends.
The most giving, servant-minded, loving children all seem to have the common experience of early hardship. Sometimes this is an illness of a parent, poverty, or perhaps a difficult move. Of course not everyone who goes through those things turns out for the better, but rest assured that if something like this has happened to your kids—there's a chance they'll not only make it through, but thrive because of it.
It's almost like those kids saw and understood death, pain and hardship alongside the joy and innocence of early life, making them more adaptable and more compassionate toward the plight of others.
Perhaps it's an effect of the parenting through those experiences. The parents who were able to manage their own stress well enough to be good companions to their children in stress showed those kids that difficulty was survivable. For those of you who didn't have the resources you needed to do this for your kids, no judgement is meant. Thankfully the God who loves us provides a community who cares to come alongside those kids in need. In fact, it's up to each of us to be aware of those laboring through the muck—whether they are our own kids or not.
The contrast of course is those children who appear to be a hundred percent self-centered; the children whose lives have been so well provided for that they can't help but only see from their own perspective because they've never had to see through anyone else's eyes. The prevention of all pain has made it unbearable. The lack of strife has actually disabled their compassion. Keep in mind that moderate stress is actually good for kids. It prompts creativity, problem-solving skills, and a tolerance to, well, stress.
Or consider the children who have been so poorly provided for that they can't help but only see from their own perspective because they're just trying to survive! While parents may have failed, my bigger concern is the neighbors of those children. It takes a village. So those of us who hide in our own closets avoiding our neighbors' plights need to feel the guilt of inaction. Those who know the good they should do and DON'T do it...
Decide today if you will be a good companion to your neighbors in pain.
Unsplash: Hans Eiskonen