The ads in the papers, TV, and push notifications on our apps all say “Presidential Savings” to capitalize on a day meant for celebrating our US leaders whom have lead this country to where it is today. You might not like where we are today as a nation but if you turn off the noise and focus in on family you’ll quickly realize the most important guidance starts in the home and empowers the core character of our children. And feel lucky that you only have to guide your family and not the many layers of government that help the President run a country of billions.
My own parents instilled in us the understanding that we are all a part of what makes a home, community, country and world, good. Treat your neighbor with respect, care for the environment around you, and never shy away from lending a helping hand.
There are many ways to instill a sense of giving in your children. The basic assigning of age-appropriate tasks like making the bed to taking out the trash teach responsibility which is at the core of self-discipline. Introducing your children to experiences, which include people or animals in need, will activate their hearts and emotions allowing everyone to tap into empathy. It’s empathy that drives our compassion to help others and perhaps that is why so many presidents had dogs in the White House. Sure, it makes for incredible photo ops but research shows caring for an animal or having an animal in the home reduces stress and increases compassion.
Schools across the nation are beginning to welcome pets into the classroom to help teach responsibility and care for others. This tail-wagging program is helping reduce the stress of bullying cases for these participating schools. I’ve often wondered why we need a pet to teach us this when human-to-human interaction should excite these emotions. After years of working with animals through 4-H and now as a foster family for Rocket Dog rescue I realize it is the innate understanding of unconditional love. Dogs and most pets don’t hold anything against us. They will give love, be an enthusiastic participant in play and stand by your side no matter what you choose to do. They won’t judge. They lift you up when you feel down.
Research shows having a companion beaming with unconditional love and attentiveness strengthens our own emotions and helps us with relationships. Our four-legged friends keep us physically fit; they stop to say hello to neighbors which helps strengthen our awareness of our community. They help us think beyond ourselves. As we celebrate President’s Day – remember: to lead is to guide others with decisiveness based on realizing what is best for all and with compassion for everyone.
Imagine if our world leaders met at dog parks instead of windowless rooms with hardback chairs. I imagine we would treat each other differently. Like Harry S. Truman once said: “Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads.”