Kids Who Care

Teach Values Worth Believing In

Ultimately, one of the many ways that our children make our lives more fulfilling is to give us more of a stake in the future. With consumer culture at an all-time high, we need to make our own beliefs clear enough to offer our kids a compelling alternative. It's up to us to pass on values of love, respect, tolerance, equality -- and a view of the world based on relationships with people and nature, not just on accumulating possessions. You can share your passion for the wilderness, for example, by taking your children hiking to beautiful places that are worth fighting to save. However overextended we may feel, taking the time and effort to be socially active helps us and our children find deeper meaning and purpose. And it lets us pass on a better world to all of our children.

Tragically, the shooting at Littleton's Columbine High School has made many adults and kids feel powerless in the face of unpredictable violence. But even children can take concrete steps to help bring about change and regain their sense of hope. Fights don't break out as frequently as they used to at P.S. 230, in Brooklyn, New York, for example, thanks to 11-year-old Masiel Richardson and 60 other students who wear blue "Mediator" T-shirts. Each of the mediators took a two-day dispute-resolution workshop sponsored by the program, Children's Creative Response to Conflict. If two kids start yelling or scuffling in the cafeteria or schoolyard, "we take them to a quiet place, let them cool off, and then we talk it out until they both feel better," says Masiel. "We're all learning to compromise and find win-win solutions to our problems."

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Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the July 1999 issue of Parents magazine.

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