Parenting is a lifelong commitment — and a challenging one at that. Back when I first became a mom, I remember thinking how my kids should have come with instructions, a kind of step-by-step parenting guide to follow. Parents-to-be can prepare all they want, but raising children, I discovered, is mostly learned on-the-job. There is no special formula to follow if you want to be a good parent.
As parents, we’re bound to have missteps, being the humans that we are. And amid the day-to-day grind of keeping your kids healthy, happy, and safe, we all err here and there. Below I discuss counterproductive behaviors that parents engage in (often without realizing it).
Hitting your kid is never, ever acceptable. As far as punishments go, spanking is not effective. Period. It’s worthwhile to mention: being physical in your anger can be destructive, too, even if you are not directly hitting another person. Throwing objects and slamming doors fall into this category. Children emulate what their parents do, so try to avoid engaging any kind of gesture that teaches kids to express frustration in a physical manner.
Making Them Eat Food They Don’t Like
Nearly every parent—myself included—can relate to the challenge that is finding nutritious foods for your kids to enjoy. It’s important to keep in mind that being fussy (or picky, even) is a normal part of human development. My recommendation? Don’t act agitated when your kid refuses to taste a new food. Kids are impressionable; the eating patterns they establish during their early years will continue to influence their relationship to food in the future. Treat family mealtimes as pleasant gatherings. Enjoy your dinners together!
Invalidating Their Feelings and Emotions
All too often, I’ve witnessed loving parents (who have the best of intentions) invalidate their son or daughter’s emotional experiences. In these situations, I’ve learned that the parents were invalidated as children by their parents, and the behavior is really habitual. It’s crucial to remember: however young they are, children are still humans. Like adults, they are entitled to feel whatever they are feeling. Here are a few examples of emotional invalidation:
Telling someone that (s)he is overreacting or being too “dramatic.”
Saying “there’s no reason to be upset” or “that’s nothing to cry over.”
Telling someone that the way they feel is “ridiculous” or “absurd,” etc.
Although these sorts of responses to kids’ emotions are extremely common and well-intentioned, they can be very damaging to a child’s emotional development. Sometimes I need to remind myself that my child is an individual person; he or she shouldn’t feel a certain way just because I feel that way.
Complaining About Your Kid’s Other Parent, In Front of Your Kid
Your relationship with your child’s mother or father is exactly that: yours. Don’t involve your kids in your personal relationships. Never bash your kid’s other parent in front of your kid. Arguing in the vicinity of your toddler or teen can contribute to unnecessary stress and anxiety. This applies to all families, though the issue is more common among divorced parents.
A University of Michigan poll has shown that the majority of U.S. parents know at least one mom or dad who is guilty of so-called “oversharenting” – sharing embarrassing photos or tales of their kids via social media. Your kids, however young and immature, are entitled to privacy. They won’t always be babies! Uncertain where the boundary is? A good rule of thumb to follow: if you wouldn’t talk to a casual acquaintance about your son’s bedwetting, don’t post about it on Facebook, either. “We have of course gotten used to mommy bloggers embarrassing their children,” says Slate’s Hanna Rosin. Rosin’s observation accurately describes the reality of our social media landscape.
Checking Your Phone (and other screen addictions)
Put down your phone! I know…we’re all guilty of this one. When you are spending time with your children, spend time with your children. If you are watching your daughter’s soccer game, actually watch her soccer game. Your kids can tell if you’re not really listening or paying attention. Don’t prioritize Facebook, work-related emails, and the like over your children. Put away digital distractions when you’re hanging out with your kids. They deserve your undivided attention.
As I mentioned earlier, there will always be missteps. We’re humans first, parents a close second. I’d love to say that loving your children is as good as a how-to manual – it isn’t. But loving your child is the first crucial step in creating your very own child how-tos and how-not-tos. At least it was for me.
This article was originally published on HuffingtonPost Blog.
Since 1995, women in big decision roles in large companies have netted minimal gains in closing the gender gap. As of June 2015, only five percent of Fortune 500 companies were led by women, which in hard numbers is a whopping 24 female CEOs — the number has since dropped to 22. Not to mention women still make 78 percent less than men.
When I wonder what the world of business and philanthropy would look like if even 50 percent of big companies had female leadership, it’s the subtle differences that are most striking. In order to talk about gender discrepancy, it’s hard to discount innate gender distinctions. What would women bring to the table if they were 95 instead of five percent of the Fortune 500 landscape? A lot.
For one, United States non-profit Catalyst.org found that women make better entrepreneurs. Their 2011 report saw a 26 percent high return on invested capital (ROIC) in top companies with 19–44 percent women leaders and no women directors in the bottom. What that means is that companies with female entrepreneurs performed extremely well in generating revenue. This figure is even more impressive with women in the tech space who founded their own startups. Data from First Round Capital reported that “[…] startup teams with at least one female founder performed 63 percent better than all male teams. The data also showed that women are present in the top ranks of their ten most valuable companies.”
Not only do female entrepreneurs prove savvy at raising ROIC, women are doing it at ages over and under 50 Another win for women? A Gallup reportreveals that women are better at communicating and fostering loyalty in their employees.
“This [report] suggests that female managers likely surpass their male counterparts in cultivating potential in others and helping to define a bright future for their employees.”
But what should make female leaders higher in demand is their ability to meet the challenges inside and outside the boardroom. They stay mindful of societal challenges.
According to a Forbes article by Geri Stengel, women entrepreneurs are more socially responsible than their male counterparts. Says Stengel, “Successful women are more likely than successful men to own a business so they can pursue a personal passion and to make a positive impact on the world.” And the ability to see the need for charity and philanthropic may be gender specific.
Research by WPI’s 2010 Women Give study shows households with single females gave 57 percent more than households with single males, and when women donated, they tended to donate more than men. I think it’s safe to say that women are more philanthropic than men. It’s a sentiment that would most likely carry over to more conscientious business practices.
I admit, I am an idealist, but I am also a pragmatist. It will take a lot of pushing on our parts to take — not wait to be offered — our places in positions of power. Truth is, women don’t ask for promotions or negotiate for higher salaries, which is not surprising as women are more likely to come down with Impostor Syndrome. According to a recent Telegraph article, even women who are already at the top of their fields think they’re frauds:
It doesn’t matter who you are, imposter syndrome can strike at any time — and, paradoxically, it affects some of the world’s most celebrated women. Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has said: ‘‘There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.’’
The actress and UN ambassador Emma Watson has repeatedly admitted she feels like an imposter, as have Kate Winslet, Renée Zellweger and Maya Angelou.
I’d love to see women at the helm of most projects. I think we have even more to offer than these statistics reveal. We are worth more than we give ourselves credit for.
With only five percent of women in top positions, we have a long way to go to even get to fifty percent. But in a world where there would be better entrepreneurs, better managers, better philanthropists and a highly adept group of people generating revenue back into Fortune 500 companies — a world of female CEOs looks pretty perfect.
This post was originally published on Entrepreneur.com
My first Mother’s Day as a new mom brought with it mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt so much joy to be blessed with a new, beautiful, innocent life. On the other hand, I would be responsible for feeding, loving, nurturing, and shaping this little soul’s life, none of which ends once they leave the nest. It’s a lot of responsibility but something I’ll be thankful for my whole life. My children have shaped my life as much as I have theirs.
As my daughter Lauren enters her first Mother’s Day with my 5-month old grandson James, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for when she was a child. Now, she had some questions for me, and I gave her the best answer a mother of three could give.
Here were some:
Does picking up a child every time he cries spoiling him/her?
Regardless of what “experts” say about this, I always picked you up if you were wailing. Children, especially ones as young as James, are helpless and need to feel heard. When they’re that little, it’s the only way they can communicate that something is wrong, and sometimes it’s just that they need to know that someone cares about them. Often times there is a reason they are crying.
What was the funniest thing I did when I was a kid?
You were such a thoughtful, smart child which I think you took into adulthood. You had an imaginary friend and those toy trolls with the big funny colorful hair that you’d make villages for. When you had a friend over, you and your friend would make little snow villages for the trolls. I would sometimes watch and feel really lucky to be witness to such a whimsical daughter.
Do you remember what my favorite bedtime stories were?
Of course! I read many of them multiple times, Goodnight Moon, all the Dr. Seuss books which always made you laugh, and you got a real kick out of the Berenstain Bears stories. They’re all available to buy and I think parents still read them to their children today.
What were you most anxious about with your first child?
If I had to narrow it down, it was leaving you all alone. What’s important to me is that my child feels loved and cared for well. I didn’t ever want any of you to feel neglected, which is why I hated the idea of having a sitter. Every time a mother is away from her young children is anxiety-provoking but having someone we trusted take care of you always helped.
I still remember all the activities you’d have us do. Gymboree and campaigning being two. Did you have special reasons for making sure we were always involved in different activities?
I wanted to start having you all socialize with those around you at around 9 months old with other kids and parents. I wanted you to be able to interact well and easily with people and the world around you. Only through a lot of exposure to the outside world would you learn how to live in it. All of you were all so attentive and took in everything around you. You weren’t afraid.
How’d you always keep us in line, especially in public?
I tried to make sure I never talked down to you. I wanted there to be an honest dialogue between us, even as mom-to-child. As much as I made sure you tagged along with me to as many places as possible, and hated the idea of a sitter, moms have to let kids have some alone time to develop curiosities and imaginations. I wanted you to feel loved as much as I wanted to raise you to be independent thinkers.
To be sure, children act out. They have since the beginning of time, but for me, speaking clearly, directly, and trying to explain why you couldn’t do something as opposed to just saying ‘because you just can’t!’ made more sense. Also, children watch what you do, so I made sure I was always aware of how I talked to others as well as you. Mimicking is a popular thing for young kids.
What do you do when your child is teething?
No mother wants to hear her child crying and teething is a hard time, especially for a new mother. When you were teething, a doctor suggested miniature frozen bagels. Once I’d hand you the frozen bagel, I’d make sure to wait until the bagel was moist and unfrozen before taking it away from you. I didn’t want you to accidentally swallow any! That was imperative. It works like those teething toys that you may see parents have in their freezer but they’re not plastic which made me feel better.
When should I start feeding my child solid foods?
I started doing it around 3 months by putting a little cereal in with your bottle. Solid food helped you all sleep through the night for some reason. When you get your child to sleep through the night as a new mom, you don’t ask why!
How to handle a picky eater?
I tried to have a laissez-faire tactic with feeding all of you. I don’t like the idea of force-feeding kids, so I pretty much left you alone when you didn’t want to eat something. I didn’t make you feel shamed over it. It was important for me not to have fights at the dinner table; I wanted to make sure you kids thought of having a family dinner as a good thing.
You probably remember that at 3, you decided you didn’t want to eat meat anymore. I remember trying to hide little pieces of hamburger in your pasta but you’d still find them and pick the pieces out with your fingers. I should’ve known I couldn’t trick you even as a toddler. And you’re still a vegetarian to this day.
Sometimes children know themselves at a young age and express that with food, toys, playtime, etc. You never want to break a child’s personality, plus kids go through their phases. Nowadays, there are so many protein alternatives for children who decide they’re done with meat, so my advice would be not to micromanage unless they don’t want to eat anything, then, you worry.
What were my favorite toys?
Other than those funny trolls, you loved Care Bears. They were a lot more popular when you were a child then they are now, but all the kids loved them. Too much these days, parents use technology or video games to keep their children occupied, but I think that interferes with play and imagination. I think it stunts kids. I think technology is great and there are programs that teach language, and spelling, and things of that sort, but balancing it out with tangible toy friends is good for kids’ motor skills.
After offering the best answers I could to her questions, I told my daughter that most importantly, she needs to enjoy her first Mother’s Day. She (and all of you) deserve it! The best advice I could give Lauren was to go ahead and ask questions from the person who did it before her — her mom.
Give your child love, love, and more love. One day, she (or he) may be asking you some questions of their own.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers this Sunday!
This post was originally published on HuffPost Parents
This post was written by ARI SYTNER
Years ago, an older man visited our synagogue once each month to make a modest donation. Although I thanked him each time, he always gave the same reply, “rabbi, please don’t thank me, I do it because I am selfish. I just enjoy the way I feel when I give charity”.
Whether helping individuals or organizations, everyone has different motivations for why they donate, volunteer or help out. In the corporate world, there are new massive trends which encourage charity and volunteerism.
Why would a company care whether their employees donate to charity? Why would corporations like Apple and Google offer programs, where they match the charitable contributions of their employees?
It could simply be because they want to be a part of the culture of “do-gooders”. It might be because industrial psychologists have suggested that employees are more productive when they feel that they are helping the world (not just selling technology). Or, perhaps they give so generously to avoid the extra tax burdens, which will inevitably hit their multi-billion dollar bottom lines.
Regardless of their ulterior motives, you have to admit that great things are happening as a result of these corporate trends which encourage kindness and philanthropy. But, let’s be clear, most companies do not exist, nor were they created just to bring social welfare reform to the world. Only as a result of their incredible success, are they able to give back to the community and help the world.
Imagine, however, if we flipped the model. What might it look like if a company were formed exclusively to help the world, while also yielding a profit?
I recall once partnering with a very generous oral surgeon, who invested in an ice-cream franchise. I curiously asked him why he was expanding into this market, if he was already maintaining a highly successful and lucrative medical practice. He responded, that he works as hard as he does just to be able to give more charity. However, he was frustrated by his own financial limitations.
Therefore, instead of donating $200,000 to charity, he invested it in a business, which was going to yield more than double his initial investment. Then he would donate every penny of the annual profit to charity. Additionally, his kindness was bringing a family-friendly business to the community, as well as offering employment to a number of people. Many other small businesses will equally allocate a tithe of at least 10% of their profit to go directly to charitable causes. Thus, the more successful they are, the more they can give back to their community.
It is this win-win-win model of Venture-Philanthropy, which puts the desire to help others as the foundation and motivation to running a successful company.
I was recently introduced to another such inspiring company called Book Bugs (www.bookbugs.net). Their motto is, “where reading meets giving”.
They are basically a monthly book club for kids, where children can receive a brand new book each month to help inspire them to read. Here’s the best part – for every three books that your child receives, a brand new book is donated to an underprivileged child.will
When I heard their mission, I simply could not resist and immediately signed up. While three of my kids love reading, I have not been able to motivate my youngest 3rd-grade daughter to read. I’ve tried getting her all the “usual” books (Harry Potter, Babysitters Club, Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, Judy Blume), none of which kept her interest for more than 10 minutes.
When I joined Book Bugs, they had me fill out a form telling about my child’s interests and hobbies. I was shocked when a few days later a book that I had never before heard of arrived in the mail. It was absolutely perfect and she could not put it down! Clearly they know more about what 8-year-old girls like to read than I do!
Now, my daughter looks forward to a new book every month. But more importantly, I love that I am also helping the world, by supporting a company that is giving the same gift of reading to a less fortunate child. (Its good to note that the company is running a promotion now, where you can get your first month for free with the promo code: GIVEBOOKS2015).
I hope that more companies will embrace this model of Venture-Philanthropy, where their business model will foremost aim to do great things in the world, beyond the wonderful products or services they offer.
While it feels great to donate and help other people, I would hardly call any act of charity selfish! Anyone who helps others is doing a good deed. But if we could direct our entrepreneurial motivations to be built upon compassion and altruism, perhaps we could inspire and help more people in the process. I am not suggesting that a company earn less and report smaller profits to their shareholders. Rather, to change their definition of success altogether.
Perhaps the very success of a company should be measured, not my how much they bring in, but my how much they can give back.
This post was originally posted by Ari Sytner. To learn more about organization, leadership, relationships, and anything else that might be troubling you, visit Ari’s inspiring blog at http://www.asytner.com/
With our busy schedules, it’s sometimes hard to keep in touch with my children. I try to talk to them as often as I can during the week. My son Pierce and I were able to chat a little about parenting and why I think my kids are my miracles. Have a look!
According to Psychology Today, children raised in affluent households show a significant increase in health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse — a reported 2 times more than their “humbler” peers. Money is expected to act as a buffer for life’s hardships, but because of that buffer, children spoiled by entitlement are not equipped to deal with hardships on their own. For that reason, privileged children today are in greater danger of health problems than former generations have been, not only in physical and mental distress, but with regards to their social and psychological development.
It’s easy to talk about this topic in the abstract, but in order to better understand the pitfalls of what many call “Affluenza”, let’s take a look at a few personality flaws that can arise from growing up in a wealthy household.
Lack of Resilience
Parents want the world for their children, and many parents believe that the best way to do so is to completely control the environment. This may work when a child is very young, but after a certain age, it is important to take the emotional training wheels off. People who are coddled and not given room to make their own mistakes as children often suffer from a pathological inability to understand that mistakes are not the end of the world. It’s important to teach them early on that making a mistake does not have any bearing on their character as people.
For children who are raised in environments where money, success, and material wealth do not come easily, compassion and empathy develop early on. Though it can be argued that having to shoulder the burden of worrying about money is also not beneficial for children, the converse can result in producing adults who care only about their own well-being and are incapable of feeling the kind of empathy for others that is necessary in a well-rounded individual.
Lack of Respect
The trope of the entitled, disrespectful, wealthy child is a familiar one for a reason. Children raised in a wealthy family can frequently confuse their parents’ accomplishments with their own, leading to a dysfunctional conception of how much power the child has over other people. This can cause an inflated sense of self. Children who suffer from affluenza often have a narcissistic sense of self-importance. Since they have always been told their opinion is the most important, their role in the world can only be corrected in the home before that happens. It is very important to catch this behavior and cut it off early if you want your children to respect other people, instead of only expecting other people to respect them.
If the aforementioned behaviors are not corrected in childhood, they can create a flawed adult. Their spoiled character traits will alienate them in relationships, prevent them from getting close to other people, and leave a bad taste in the mouth of everyone who comes into contact with them because of their callousness and narrow-minded world view.
It needs to be said that there is no hard and fast rule of how children will develop. I am not proclaiming to be an expert in child psychology, but keeping my children away from these pitfalls has proven highly successful for me (and them). I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished as adults, and I think their upbringing has had a lot to do with that! I believe that if you want to raise a functional, well-adjusted child who will grow up to be a compassionate, respectful adult, you must impart these important values in your children. When it comes down to it, this is the kindest thing you could ever do as a parent – and your children will thank you for it later.
Originally published on Huffington Post
It is my hope to inform more people that March is Women’s History Month because many people don’t know or forget how important it is. This March, UN Women For Peace Association, of which I am a board member, is marching in March for not just women’s rights but all human rights. It is a reminder that our struggle continues. It is also a way for us to stand (and march) in solidarity for those countless women who live in inhumane situations. Across the world, a reported 70 percent of women are physically or sexually attacked by an intimate partner, almost 5 million women are subject to abject poverty, 60 million children are child brides, slaves, or forced into human trafficking, and 140 million are subjects of genital mutilation.
If I take a minute to think of every single of those hundreds of millions of people as mothers and daughters, it’s impossible not to do something so I will be marching and I truly hope you’ll join us.
Below are the details from the UN Women for Peace Website regarding the event where you can sign up or donate to the cause:
United Nations Women for Peace Association will hold its Fourth Annual March to End Violence Against Women on March 5th, 2016.
Speakers will begin at 11 A.M.
March will commence at 11:30 A.M.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
833 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Another march that will be taking place this month in association with UN Women for Peace Association: The March for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights which is taking place on March 8th is being organized by UN Women in collaboration with the City of New York, NGO-CSW, the Working Group on Girls, the Man Up Campaign and the UN Women for Peace Association.
The UN Women’s March will celebrate the achievements women and girls have made around the world since 1995. It makes sense to commemorate the courageous women on this iconic 20-year anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on March 8th – International Women’s Day (IWD).
Since IWD’s earliest observance was in February 28, 1909 in New York in remembrance of an International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, the goal of IWD’s has always been to bring empowerment to women and has grown into a women’s human rights organization. The following year, the International Women’s Conference was organized inspired in part by the American movement. 100 female delegates from 17 countries agreed that the idea was to be employed as a strategy to promote equal rights, including women’s suffrage..
By March of 1911, IWD was being recognized by over a million people across Europe.
A year later, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. With the suffragette movement on the rise, IWD was often a vehicle for women raise awareness about sex discrimination and the right for women to vote.
Both events will also be opportunities to shine a light on the need for our commitment to immediate actions towards achieving gender equality by 2030. The March for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights start at:
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th Street and 2nd Avenue) at 2:30 p.m. and end at Times Square (42nd Street and 7th Avenue) at 5:00 p.m on March 8th.
More information on how to join by marching or donating, visit their site by clicking HERE.
Hope to see you soon!
In my 7-year involvement with Kipp.org as a founding board member, I was able to see firsthand the power of education on disadvantaged children who would’ve been lost to the streets, their talents and imaginations untapped, and therefore lost without help. During that time I helped them grow from 2 schools to 22 schools. And now it has grown to 183 schools.
KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) was founded with a focus on one theme: to help children. Since its founding in 1994 by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin in a Houston classroom of 47 5th-graders, KIPP.org has aided in the development of education and valuable skills that enhance children’s ability to advance onto higher education.
As educators in Houston’s impoverished and crime-filled Third Ward, Mike and Dave witnessed the imperative need for children to have a path towards high-quality college prep instruction and high-quality mentorship — starting at the Pre-K level. With their determination, KIPP has continued to grow, and has proven itself pivotal to the communities it serves.
KIPP.org’s success stories have been growing in its 22 years with the highly effective utilization of KIPP.org’s Five Pillars: High Expectations, Choice and Commitment, More Time, Power to Lead, and Focus on Results.
THE FIVE PILLARS
- High Expectations: KIPP schools have clearly defined and measurable high expectations for academic achievement and conduct. Students, parents, teachers, and staff create and reinforce a culture of achievement and support through a range of formal and informal rewards and consequences for academic performance and behavior.
- Choice & Commitment: Students, their parents, and the faculty of each KIPP school choose to participate in the program. No one is assigned or forced to attend a KIPP school. Everyone must make and uphold a commitment to the school and to each other to put in the time and effort required to achieve success.
- More Time: KIPP schools know that there are no shortcuts when it comes to success in academics and life. With an extended school day, week, and year, students have more time in the classroom to acquire the academic knowledge and skills that will prepare them for competitive high schools and colleges, as well as more opportunities to engage in diverse extracurricular experiences.
- Power to Lead: The principals of KIPP schools are effective academic and organizational leaders who understand that great schools require great school leaders. They have control over their school budget and personnel. They are free to swiftly move dollars or make staffing changes, allowing them maximum effectiveness in helping students learn.
- Focus on Results: KIPP schools relentlessly focus on high student performance on standardized tests and other objective measures. Just as there are no shortcuts, there are no excuses. Students are expected to achieve a level of academic performance that will enable them to succeed at the nation’s best high schools and colleges.
Armed with these principles, KIPP.org devised plans to take these 5 Pillars national. With family, friends, and fellow teachers for support, the founders focus on recruiting teachers and students, developing excellent academic skills, and training potential leaders. In 2000, the KIPP Foundation was established to train, recruit, and develop candidates who would become leaders to run future KIPP schools. KIPP successfully open its first elementary and high schools which would become a Pre-K to 12 system. If space provides, KIPP enrolls all interested students, regardless of prior academic record or socioeconomic background. By providing a safe and structured learning environment, more classroom instruction, and committed teachers, KIPP schools have helped students make significant academic gains.
PRE-K To HIGH SCHOOL & BEYOND
Pre-K/Elementary Schools: KIPP pre-kindergarten/elementary schools begin with a pre-kindergarten or kindergarten class and add a grade each year until fourth grade. Currently, KIPP operates 71 elementary schools across the nation.
Middle Schools: KIPP middle school starts with a fifth grade through eighth grade. There are currently 90 KIPP middle schools around the country.
High Schools: KIPP high schools begin with ninth grade through twelfth grade high schools. KIPP has grown to reach 22 high schools serving communities around the country.
KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) now has 183 schools in 20 states with over 70,000 students, with almost 90 percent of students from low-income families. Across the U.S., more than 94 percent of KIPP middle school students have graduated high school, and more than 82 percent of KIPP alumni have gone on to university.
KIPP.org was founded by teachers who wanted to make a difference and in turn have paved the way to educate and mentor countless children in the process.
Five Pillars from KIPP.org
Parents used to (maybe still do) attempt to make their children eat brussel sprouts for dinner by saying, “What about those starving children in Africa or China!” And though I’ve always been keenly aware of the hunger problem ‘out there’, I’ve also tried to remind my children that hunger also exists in the United States — in our own backyards. I knew in the end that discussions over broccoli at the dinner table wouldn’t give them a realistic look at the plight of those in need. They would need to witness it firsthand, so when I would volunteer at soup kitchens or raised money for can donations for the homeless and less fortunate, I’d make sure to have my kids in tow to help. I truly believe that had a significant impact on how they see their place in the world, and has kept them right-sized in a world among others.
I am so proud of the huge and important FEED initiative that my oldest daughter Lauren has formed in order to combat the issue of hungry, especially childhood hunger. Since Lauren found FEED in 2007, it has flourished into an organization dedicated to the fight against hunger and poverty, both in the United States and abroad. As a social business, FEED seeks to lend assistance to communities in need through the production and sale of apparel, accessories and gift items. Each product is stamped with a number symbolizing the real-world impact of the sale; donations range from school meals to fortified foods designed to promote optimal mother-child nutrition throughout pregnancy and infancy.
FEED’s initiatives seek to put an end to the larger problems facing millions of families worldwide, many of which stem from severe malnutrition. While serving as an honorary spokesperson for the World Food Programme, Lauren began to realize how great an impact school lunches alone could make. Research data suggests that when children are fed at school, attendance rates increase dramatically and overall academic performance improves notably. Females in particular benefit from additional schooling, as even just a few years of education greatly lowers their chances of becoming pregnant prematurely.
World hunger is not the only challenge FEED has taken on, however. The charity group works with artisans and cooperatives in countries like Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, and Kenya to create new opportunities in some of the most impoverished parts of the globe. Fair labor conditions are emphasized throughout all facets of the production cycle and environmentally-friendly materials are utilized whenever possible.
With each sale of a FEED-branded product, a corresponding donation is made in the form of school lunches, nutrient-rich powders or high-dose vitamin A supplements. The organization’s website notes the charitable benefit alongside each product. For example, the $75.00 FEED Backpack provides 75 healthy meals for schoolchildren around the world. The FEED 100 Shopper bag, meanwhile, promises to provide 100 vitamin A supplement capsules for a $35.00 purchase.
The benefits of school meals have been well documented, but efforts to distribute micronutrient powders and vitamin supplements can produce notable impacts as well. Micronutrient deficiency is a major threat both to the physical health and mental development of children. By supplementing foods prepared at home which are less rich in nutrients, this vulnerable segment of the population can be better protected and prepared for future success.
Similarly, vitamin A is a key player in both ocular health and immune system function. When daily intake of this vital nutrient is insufficient, children as well as new mothers are placed at risk. Administering high-dosage vitamin A capsules twice each year helps fight formation of deficiencies, promoting better health and overall survival rates.
Nearly 50 million Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from. Worldwide, over 800 million people are affected by hunger, over 60 percent of which are women. Innovative approaches to philanthropy such as the one taken by FEED are helping turn the tide on this global challenge, which in turn results in a number of communal benefits.
FEED strategically partners with charitable organizations including the UN World Food Programme, UNICEF, and Feeding America. To date, they have provided over 87 million meals to women and children in 63 different countries, including food aid contributions in the United States as well as emergency relief services worldwide.
Though the organization has accomplished much in raising awareness and funds to help assuage the alarming numbers of those left hungry everyday, I know my daughter strives always to do much more. I know this in the same way I knew that taking the young Lauren to soup kitchens to serve meals to the hungry would help shape an adult Lauren’s desire to think globally, act locally and always with publicly-minded intentions at heart.
As a former elementary school teacher who has worked at inner city schools, I have witnessed firsthand the dire straits of many students’ lives. Even after decades of dedicating myself to finding ways to improve the way children learn, live and thrive, I am as passionate today as I was when I first began my journey as an educator. After some time as a teacher, I had three small children of my own at home, all of whom I promised I would raise to understand the importance of giving back. In a sense, my children helped spark my philanthropy, and I’d like to think I sparked theirs.
Though I would love to take credit for raising three philanthropists, there are many factors that make a person charitable. But there are ways a parent can nurture and shape a child’s idea of community by imbuing in them an obligation to act with compassion for their fellow humans.
Here are some ways in which I’ve been able to do so:
Charity Starts At Home
According to Talk About Giving, 71% of adult children with philanthropic parents go on to be philanthropists themselves, while only 47% children of parents who do not give become philanthropists.
Spending quality time with your family can include giving back to your community together. For instance, having a lemonade stand where the proceeds are donated to charity or volunteering at food drives are simple ways for a child to give back and network with other like-minded children. It will also help them see that giving can and does work. Make these activities fun and rewarding.
Teaching Without Tech
Computers and iPads away! The technology in which the world is run today is always evolving – trying to keep us “connected”, but how connected are people to each other when the ‘virtual barriers’ keep us from face-to-face time?
According to a recent Psychology Today article, “[…] too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games, and good old unstructured and imaginative play, will result in your children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology.”
Family sports, board games, and lo-fi outdoor activities (picnics, hikes, etc) can shift focus to your children’s imaginations. Creating habits early on will set in them the routine of connecting to their world, each other, and others. When they are ready to leave the nest, they will already be armed with ways to unplug from tech, create their own paths, stay away from peer pressure, and plug in to what I think of as the real sort of connection — one to their fellow man and woman. If they equate giving back as being a positive, worthwhile experience, they are more likely to want to contribute on their own.
Walk Your Talk
Follow through and lead by example. Though it may not seem like it all the time, children idolize and emulate the actions of their parents, more so than their words. In fact, toddlers develop a sense of themselves by imitating their parents. In other words, copying you is part of their developmental process.
The best way you can evoke a sense of pride for philanthropy in your children is to exhibit that pride in your own actions. You are more likely to raise a philanthropist if you are one yourself. Pass on the spirit of giving by making it an everyday part of your life.
Show Them The Real World
Our first instinct is to shield our children from anything negative, which is of course a good thing, but be sure they know that there are people in the world who need our help. That is to say, I don’t recommend exposing children to all the horrible things that exist! Instead, involve them in all the ways in which philanthropy helps.
My children have always known how much I have devoted my heart to charities because I have always included philanthropy in our home conversations. The more children know how important giving back is, and why we give back, the more educated they will be when it is time for them to carry on charitable missions as adults.
What Are Their Passions?
What are they interested in? What are their passions? As a parent, you are in a position to see everyday what makes your children happy. They are more likely to take part in philanthropic activities if it is related to something they are interested in.
Have a toy drive or a bake sale, throw a fundraiser for books or camping trips. I believe that the earlier you impress on them that giving can be fun, the easier they’ll incorporate that sort of thinking into their day-to-day lives.
In my years of parenting and charity work, I’ve come to see that paying it forward carries a reward in itself. What I am most proud of is having raised 3 wonderfully giving and community-minded children. Lauren is CEO and co-founder of The FEED Foundation, which has made great strides toward eliminating world hunger with 90 million meals provided to hungry children; my daughter Ashley is a filmmaker who tutors abused women to help them earn their GED degree; and my son Pierce is the CEO of the Texas chapter of the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Believe me, I did not spoil my children nor were they raised in an atmosphere of privilege. Instead, I encouraged them to be imaginative. Being able to see how my children have grown into amazingly giving adults is one of the greatest rewards for my philanthropy I’ve ever been given.
*Go to Sharon’s Huffington Post contributor page for more articles HERE
Talk About Giving Org (CHART)
Sharon Bush is an accomplished philanthropist who has worked for nearly four decades to bring resources to underprivileged women, children and families around the world. Her altruism and business acumen have had a powerful results, and many global organizations have recognized her humanitarian efforts with awards and accolades.