If you’re careful to observe the youth culture, you might notice that kids are more likely to be self-revolving and less likely to be attentive to the needs of others around them.
(Most adults fall into this category as well, which is simply the result of not being taught as children.)
(I personally think the public school system is set up to do the opposite of training youngsters to be thoughtful of others, yet ironically, homeschool naysayers often question…“Well don’t you want them to learn to get along with others?” I’m always confused that we don’t seem to make the connection…I digress again
Again we point back to Scripture….“he who is first will be last…”…”he who desires to save his life must lose it…”…”you also ought to wash one another’s feet”…“be ye kind one to another…”
Being attentive to others’ needs must start within the family, just like most any character trait. A phrase we have recently started trying to encourage our children to ask is, “How can I help?” (We got that from Greg Harris.)
- Having them take their plates/cups to the sink (remind them that this helps or serves the one doing dishes).
- Making sure they pick up the things they get out. It’s constant, yes, but it will pay. “Don’t leave a mess for someone else to pick up” is our mantra.
- Encouraging boys to open doors and be alert to carry things for the girls or Mom. Feminists hate this, but a queen loves it.
- Encouraging them to let others go first. Jumping to the front of every line is rude and I see teenagers do it all the time.
- Model the example. Let your children see you offering to help others–even strangers in public.
- Cleaning off your table at a fast food restaurant. We don’t have to, but it’s courteous.
- I suppose the list could go on and on. Small things that communicate “there’s more to life than ME”.
And any time we are visiting another family, we try to encourage our children to at least offer with clean-up.
We also talk a lot about how work is heavy if it falls on one or two people, but “many hands make light work” when shared.
At the core of attentiveness is teaching our children that life is not to be lived individually, like the culture tries to teach us. It is not about “looking out for #1“; it’s about working and serving together as a family, putting others first, and then having that attitude extend to people wherever we go.
Attentiveness could wear many hats, and is a simple concept. But what a contrast in a self-centered day!