Finding our way to a kinder culture―a culture that starts with our families.
In homes and school communities nationwide, there is re-energized interest in the values of community, compassion, and tolerance, and in finding our way to a kinder culture—a culture that starts with our families. Headlines speak of hate crimes, intolerance, and us-versus-them divisiveness. Recent political events have left many Americans yearning for unity, respect, and compassion in our national discourse. In our schools, bullying continues to be a pervasive problem, and in our homes, ‘screen-time’ poses a constant threat to ‘family time.’ Research shows that connection and social engagement are key to successful, fulfilling lives, and yet we have never been less connected than we are now. Perhaps more than any other group, parents recognize the potential damage of this trend.
Photos by Marcia Ciriello
We are both mental health professionals who have devoted our lives to working with families and children. We are a mom and grandma. We are an aunt and niece team. We share experiences from our work lives and values from our own family. We originally set out to write a book about raising charitable children. Along the way, we realized that being charitable (which we see as helping others) is not just about charity. We have observed that certain characteristics appear to be an integral part of exceptionally charitable people. We believe that with very few exceptions, each of us is born with these characteristics. We can learn to recognize and pay attention to how we incorporate them into our daily life and nurture them in our children. These concepts are vital to living a caring and purposeful life. We hope The Kindness Advantage will help your whole family discover ways to make a positive impact in the world.
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Just like we see in kids who have the empathy advantage, children who are raised with the kindness advantage are happier, connected, compassionate, and will have what they need to become changemakers in their world. The Kindness Advantage offers parents the tools to teach these skills and more to their young children. With the extensive examples of activities provided in the The Kindness Advantage, parents can pick and choose what resonates with them to create a personalized approach to bringing kindness into their everyday lives.
Before we expect kindness from others, we have to nurture it in ourselves. Thanks to The Kindness Advantage we now have the recipe to raise children that better the world not because of what they have done, but because of who they are. And, in the process, we can learn to become kinder people in an often divisive and complicated world.
As a physician who uses mindfulness practices extensively in working with patients, health care professionals, and people dealing with all varieties of stress, I love that this book incorporates those practices into a guide for parents who are teaching their children to be kind. The authors wisely lead with the evidence that kindness leads to greater happiness, meaning, and wellbeing, and then provide a myriad of inspirational examples and ideas for children and parents. Grandparents, who are often crucial inspirational figures in children's lives, may particularly benefit from ideas for intergenerational collaborations in kindness.