Our daughter, much to her pre-teen angst and disappointment, is still without a cell phone. The grudgingly-made compromise has been to set up a group text chat with her middle school friends via mom's phone. And does mom occasionally check out the latest chit chat and dramas of 11 and 12 year old girls? Of course she does!
It was during one such scroll through the emoji-filled landscape of tween texting that I came across an exchange between my daughter and a friend. This friend was lamenting how horrible her summer has been thus far because she was having to do some summertime homework as well as participate in sports practice. It was just the worst summer ever says the friend.
To her credit, my daughter responded to this fellow 12 year old that she too was doing summer school, attending weekday swim team practice and is stuck at home with her two little brothers. And guess what, friend? You'll survive!
Slightly shocked at the maturity of this response, I asked her about the exchange. She simply responded that there are so many other kids who don't have the opportunities that she and her friends have each summer and that this particular friend just "needs to get over it".
Was this preteen sense of perspective the direct result of dragging her outside of her comfort bubble and exposing her to all sorts of people with vastly different needs than she has? This hopeful mom wants to think so!
Regardless of how she came to provide a little dose of summertime reality to a friend, the ability to understand the potential lack in someone else's life and the abundance in hers is one of the many benefits of volunteering at a young age. Being able to step into another person's shoes is a critical skill that research suggests helps with making friends and forming social relationships (via Doing Good Together, June 2021).
Having perspective makes us more willing to help others and to act with compassion.
Whether this moment of tween perspective-taking was a total fluke or the making of a compassionate person, only time will tell. But this mom will celebrate each and every time she witnesses her kids taking even the smallest dose of perspective. ♥