Raising a Hopeful Child

Raising a Hopeful Child, p.5

Finding Hope in Helping Others

In short, the best way to teach hope is to live it. "Hopeful kids have at least one hopeful parent, someone busy planning new things, taking initiatives," says Dr. Emanuel. Your children are watching how you deal with obstacles and challenges. And a hopeful parent, he suggests, shows that she respects a full range of aspirations, including those -- like developing one's mind, being creative, and helping others -- that go beyond the material and measurable. Ultimately, a child feels more hopeful when he's working toward something bigger than himself.

Jerry Sorkin, an entrepreneur in Radnor, PA, believes it's a lesson worth teaching at a young age. Sorkin sometimes takes his 6-year-old son, Joseph, with him to Red Cross meetings. "I've explained that the people are there to help those who can't help themselves," he says. In 1999, Sorkin flew to earthquake-devastated Turkey and brought toys to kids who'd lost their homes. When he told his son about his trip, Joseph offered to give up a toy. "I brought back pictures of kids living in tents, and he took them to his preschool and explained what his father did and how he made a difference," says Sorkin.

When adversities in life seem overwhelming, parents can help by offering a historical perspective. "Talking about history takes away the catastrophic specialness of a given event," says Dr. Snyder. "We have centuries of previous examples where humankind has been visited by disasters." What happened is that people found a way to come together, agreed on a common goal, and then dealt with the crisis at hand. The past -- whether it's the story of Picasso's life or the affairs of nations -- can be the textbook that teaches our children hope for the future.

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