Are you sometimes stunned when your teenager takes privileges for granted, expects all their needs to be met but couldn’t care less about yours, or shows very little compassion to a sibling at a time when it is sorely needed?
This experience can sometimes mortify parents who have tried their utmost to raise kind, compassionate people. The teenage years are often a time when teenagers exhibit behaviour that can drive their parents crazy, destroy friendships and cause conflict over seemingly trivial things. Sadly, this is something that has been experienced by parents of all generations
In today’s rapidly changing world, where technology and social media often promote individualism and self-centeredness, teaching teenagers to be compassionate is more important than ever.
Compassion is the ability to understand and empathize with the feelings and experiences of others, ultimately leading to acts of kindness and support. Cultivating compassion in teenagers not only enhances their emotional intelligence but also fosters a sense of community, making the world a better place for everyone.
At Glasshouse Christian College we would love to partner with you to shape your children during these formative years. Our GREAT values of Godliness, Respect, Excellence, good Attitude, and Thankfulness are designed to help students reflect on these concepts during their formative years as they are constantly reminded to strive to be a “Good Person”.
One of the first things that fosters these values is to show them through example. In the first years at home and during the Primary years, students are taught compassion, cooperation, asking and receiving forgiveness as well as how to share.
Then the teenage years arrive and for some teenagers, it seems as though all those beautiful values and skills fly out the window. This is the time to show them and guide them rather than leave them to their own devices.
This can be done through:
Show compassion for them but also show them how to support others who are going through a hard time. Many teenagers do not have the interpersonal skills to do this well. This is often seen when some disaster befalls a friend and they would rather avoid them because they don’t know what to do. Talk them through it and show them what to do. Your actions speak louder than your words.
Imagine being in someone else’s shoes
Point out people’s behaviour and ask your child to imagine why someone would act that way. Point out someone who is suffering and ask them to imagine how that feels. Many of them are so caught up in their own worlds that they fail to process how other people experience the world. This type of awareness is essential to have compassion. Please allow your child to have some discomfort by going on camp or going places they do not feel like going otherwise they will not know how other people feel if they have never experienced any kind of hardship themselves.
Also, discuss events that are unfolding in the world like the drought and famine in Ethiopia and the war in Ukraine so they understand that our Australian world of comfort and prosperity is the exception rather than the rule.
It is very important to have compassion for people who look and think differently from yourself so that your child can have the necessary compassion for those of other cultures they may encounter in our modern multicultural world.
At our chapels, during PC classes, and all through the curriculum, students are challenged to see through the eyes of other people and to feel their joy and pain.
Action makes the difference
Unless compassion turns to action, it is worthless. Encourage your teenager to do good things. Do it with them and reflect on the difference it makes.
We strive to make it a part of what we do at Glasshouse Christian College as we heal the environment by planting trees, we raise money for the sick, oppressed, and abused, we visit the elderly, and care for those who are hurting in our community.
As part of our Religion and Ethics program, our Year 12 students are encouraged to do an act of kindness, help someone in need or raise money for a cause. Once again our Year 12s did not disappoint as two groups of girls had bake sales at school (Thank you for supporting them!) to raise hundreds of dollars to support two local aid organisations for the homeless and children in need. Others spent their own hard-earned money to buy clothing for the homeless. Some spent their time cleaning gardens for the elderly or visiting with those who have almost no one. The final part of the challenge was that they were not to tell anyone of their kind deed except their teacher to make sure that it was done out of the kindness of their heart and not for social recognition.
I am so proud of our students and I hope you are too as we raise the next generation of compassionate, caring people who will help to make a better world for everyone.
After all, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
This is our desire to follow Jesus in showing true, humble compassion.
Bert Kasselman, Head of Senior School