A Guide for Parents to Raise Compassionate Kids | Next Gen Blog | Church on the Hill

A Guide for Parents to Raise Compassionate Kids

February 21, 2024 | Kaylee Andrews

3-5 minute read time
Have you ever sat and thought about what it means to be compassionate or show empathy towards another individual? To fully stop in your tracks and sit with another person in their hardships or suffering? The world we live in could use more compassion and understanding when it comes to the emotions we all experience. I believe that change starts now, within the next generation...your children. We must begin nurturing kids and teenagers in a way that Jesus cared for his people all those years ago and still does today. Nurturing, compassion, and empathy all go together, and we see that modeled from Jesus. You can be like Jesus, and in return, your children will learn how to be like Jesus too! 
You can nurture the growth of your child in many ways. Nurturing is simply encouraging and helping develop the growth in different aspects of an individual’s life. But, in this writing I want to focus on the nurturing aspect within your child’s relationship with Jesus. Helping your child develop their faith is contagious. Meaning, when they come to know Jesus on a personal level it spreads to every aspect of their lives. I recently had a phone call with someone discussing the idea of faith and how we can help someone totally new to the idea of Jesus. I learned early on in ministry you can’t just hand someone a bible and tell them to pray. You must intentionally walk this new path with them and nurture their growth. Within the phone call we talked about just that, people come to faith through relationships with people who openly tell others what Jesus has done in their life. Those individuals begin to understand Jesus is not just a man who lived over 2,000 years ago. Instead, Jesus is the one who came to save us and give us everlasting life. That the Jesus they have always heard about can come into their lives and give them peace. That is why modeling your faith within your home and family is crucial for your child. We are the ones our children look up to and they will begin to ask about Jesus. We must be ready to encourage their faith walk and help it grow. I know being a parent is not easy. The laundry needs to be washed, dinner must be cooked, baseball practice starts in an hour, and you really need more hours in the day. But I am giving you permission to slow down and remember what is everlasting. Jesus is everlasting and your child needs you nurturing their faith journey more than they need those clothes to be folded.
In your child’s faith journey, and as they leap into the teenage years, everything won’t always seem black and white. I recently read that everyone understands a teenager is constantly evolving when it comes to their emotions. It seems to happen overnight, and we label it as a mood swing. Although it is true that their emotions are evolving, it happens faster than their brain can understand. Meaning they have new emotions and feelings with no way of properly managing them. This is where being compassionate even when you want to get angry and upset is a game changer! Your child recognizes through your voice and actions that you care for them. As much as your child needs direction and discipline, they also need you to show compassion towards them. Think of Jesus for a second in this whole mindset of compassion. Jesus sat with the brokenhearted, those suffering, the outcast and never once made them feel less than. Jesus came so that he could dwell among his people. The people like you and I that need compassion and someone who shows concern in our suffering. Your child will go through seasons as they are discovering who they are that will bring heartache, suffering, and unknown territory. Remember, be like Jesus in this moment for your kid. Simply sit with them and show concern. Let them know they are not alone, and compassion will shine through you.
As much as I believe Jesus showed compassion towards people, I believe he even went a step further. Jesus not only sat with them to show concern, but Jesus also deeply connected with his people. I like to believe Jesus boldly takes a front seat in our lives and feels the same emotions we feel. After all, when we think of the life Jesus lived, he was fully human and fully divine. Jesus felt hurt, sadness, hunger, betrayal, anger and so much more. We can take refuge in knowing Jesus deeply not only understands our emotions, but he too felt them. If I was to ask a student on any given Sunday if they felt understood in their current stage of life, chances are they would say no. Please, as a parent, do not think that means you’re not killing this whole parenting thing. This is just the reality of being a teenager--it is normal. So how do we begin to help our kid or teenager feel more understood? I believe we must treat them the same way Jesus treated his people. We must connect deeply with their emotions and be aware of what is happening. To understand a little further, showing compassion for your kid is simply acknowledging their current situation or emotion they are facing. But to be empathetic towards your child is to sit and understand that emotion for yourself. Jesus not only connected with his people, but he also sat with them in their suffering. I have noticed in youth ministry sometimes a child needs me to simply help them carry the heavy load. You can do this for your child and share the difficult parts of life with them. 
Connecting compassion, empathy, and nurturing values
 I want to take the time to connect all three of the above values. As you begin to nurture, show compassion, and be empathetic towards your child; you begin raising a child that will also have these qualities. Remember as much as these three traits get clumped together, they each serve a great purpose. I often wonder what it would be like to physically spend one whole day with Jesus by my side. I know, I know; He is with me even as I write this. But I mean to hug Him and spend a whole day doing what Jesus would do. I believe I would feel completely understood, valued, and accepted more than I ever have before. But I believe Jesus left us a model to live by when he left this earth. We can give people that undeniable sense of peace and belonging. Your child can be the one that comforts people in their suffering. They can be the one to sit with a friend and share the pain felt in the room. Your child can be like Jesus because we are his vessels here on earth. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. We must go where Jesus went and do what Jesus did. I believe your child can serve others and boldly share their faith. Show these qualities towards your child and your child will become a person that shows compassion and empathy in a bold way. 
Mark 9:35 
“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant to all.”