We’re headlong into the Season of Lights. Everywhere we turn the twinkling lights and color, the candles… lights up the dark, renews hope, brings smiles, and finds us sharing with one another in a way that’s unique to this season.

As co-parents, you’ve been busy preparing your homes and involving the children in family traditions and practices. There will be gifts involved, cookies to bake, latkes to fry — all the special foods, smells, songs, and memory-builders from your childhood get recreated for your children.

Help children find ways to not only enjoy the lights and specialness of the season, but also be “a light” by doing something special for someone else.

Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, pediatrician and author, writes: “Children need to realize the world is a better place because they are in it.” Helping children find ways to contribute to the needs of others assists them in understanding the value of service and generosity. When children have guidance on how to spread their own light and how to bring hope and helpfulness to others in need, they take an important place in the larger human family.

The holidays can be a time of family stress; the holidays can also be a time of connection and contribution. Skillful co-parenting helps mitigate stress and supports memory-building for children that ground them in the spirit of the season.  

Consider how you and the kids will be part of the giving and sharing that brings light into the lives of those in need, or cares for the environment, or spreads cheer to those who are alone:

  • Make a special outing that includes donating a gift from a giving-tree request
  • Donate toys, clothes or books to a local drive for children/families in need
  • Adopt a family and share food
  • Model kindness and good-nature
  • Spend time one morning cleaning up litter in the local park
  • Take the time to visit someone you know who might be alone this holiday season

When we demonstrate the importance of community and help children recognize themselves as caring contributors, we help kids build strong character and a deeper understanding of the spirit of the season.