The Greatest Gift: Raising Our Children to Be Humane Citizens

What do you want most for your children? I think that the majority of us parents, when we deeply reflect upon this question, find ourselves hoping our children will grow up to be joyful, kind, generous, honest, compassionate, good people. There’s a word that sums up these qualities: humane.

As parents, I believe we have a responsibility to raise conscious and conscientious children who have the knowledge, will and capacity to address grave problems, such as climate change, escalating worldwide slavery, alarming rates of species extinction, terrorism, an energy crisis, and more.

This means that we parents must ourselves become curious, creative, critical thinkers, role models of humane living, and engaged changemakers for a better world through our parenting, acts of citizenship, work outside the home, and community involvement.

Raising deeply humane children in a culture replete with materialism, endless competition, greed, either/or thinking and myopia, is profoundly challenging. We cannot do it without a deep personal commitment to modeling humane values, without a community of like-minded parents, without schools and teachers that support and reinforce our great purpose, and with endlessly blaring media messages that undermine our values at every turn.

But as hard as this challenge is, choosing to build a supportive community around our children, to influence their schools, and to take up the great work of modeling for our children the lives we would wish for them is profoundly rewarding. Parenting our children in this way brings its own joy, meaning, and great satisfaction because we ourselves choose to live with integrity, honesty, kindness, wisdom and perseverance which is the best antidote to fear, despair, and disempowerment, and perhaps the greatest gift we can give our kids.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education

Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education

My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

Our six-week online course, Raising a Humane Child, is designed to help you in your quest to live your life according to your deepest values and to raise your children to be joyful, engaged citizens in creating a just, compassionate, healthy world for all. Many tell us this course is life-changing. It is also world-changing. Sessions start September 12 and November 7. Sign up now.

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