How do we model compassion, empathy, generosity, and caring for our children?
Lately I've notice people saying, "I wish I could do more...." in response to the struggles faced by our family and other people we know who are coping with health or financial crises. As much as I know that the people who say, "I wish I could do more..." are trying to express their support or sympathy, it tends to irritate me more than it makes me feel better. The truth is that many of them do kind and generous things for other people. They aren't uncaring; they are often truly worried about the person or situation.
So, what's my problem? (Obviously this is my problem and not theirs, right?)
Maybe these people can't do more, or maybe they don't want to do more. That's o.k. we all have our personal and financial limits. We get to choose how much we give and how much we do. But it's hard when someone says to me, "I wish I could do more..." while I am struggling to buy toilet paper and they have financial security that I can only dream of having, someday, maybe, but it doesn't seem likely at this point. If they aren't going to do more they could say, "I hope things get better for you soon," or "I'm sorry things are so hard right now."
If you really wish you could do more it would be better to ask, "What more can I do?"
If you can afford to buy toilet paper, without feeling stressed by the expense, then you can probably do more. If you aren't sure what to do, how about starting by buying an extra package of toilet paper and leaving it on the porch of someone you know who is struggling. If you feel like that's not enough, try adding a tag that says, "I'm sorry life is shitty right now."
Our children learn compassion from us, from our interactions with them, but also by how we respond to the needs of others. What an awesome world it would be if our kids grew up asking, "What more can I do?" instead of standing to the side, wringing their hands, and saying, "I wish I could do more."
The next time you have a friend who is facing a challenge ask yourself, or ask them, "What more can I do?"