Friendship, already covered in the previous post, starts with enjoying oneself. Gradually others become more necessary to enjoying life. Caring for others becomes important and the second group of virtues starts to develop.
It starts very simply with caring for Mom and Dad. The scope or range begins to increase tremendously as caring extends to family and friends. These virtues expand even more when including school, neighbourhood, groups, and teams. Caring eventually reaches nature and the rest of our world.
As awareness of, feelings for, and sensitivity to others develops, compassionate behaviours becomes evident:
- recognizing and commenting that someone is in distress – in pain, suffering, or danger,
- feeling sorry for another‘s distress,
- wanting to do something to alleviate this distress,
looking for ways to help,
- taking action to improve the situation, perhaps as simple as talking to the other person, raising funds, or getting involved with a group working to prevent hunger or disease.
Love is the most wonderful feeling anyone can have. I am sure to fall short on listing the behaviours that identify this virtue. I’ll make a go of it and I expect you to add your own … and point your child toward them:
- being kind,
- saying “I love you”,
- making birthday or Mother’s Day cards and really enjoying it,
- being generous, perhaps to the point of sacrificing, with your time and resources,
- ready to share and support on short notice,
- wanting to spend all your time with them, and
- letting them know all the things above!
Compassion and love should be easy to acquire in childhood. Empathy and loyalty, the other two virtues in the “caring” group may need a bit more maturing.