I Want My Daughter To Be a Beacon and a Light

I Want My Daughter to Be Compassionate

RachelKiser_200TallRachel Kiser
Blogger | Mom of Two


What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Before both of our children were born, my husband and I found ourselves in an intentional discussion about who we hoped they would grow to be. We, of course, recognize that some of the things we discussed are out of our hands; but we also realize that many of them we are able to demonstrate and nurture in our time parenting our children through their youth. If I could somehow will one thing into my daughter, my first-born, it would be this: a heart that is compassionate.

My temptation was to follow that statement with the words, “that’s it,” but I realized my error and quickly backspaced my words until they no longer existed on the page. That’s it– as though it’s some small thing. Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. Does that sound like a characteristic to be followed by, “that’s it”? Certainly not. I think we can all pinpoint moments in our lives where someone has shown us compassion, or that we’ve been witness to a truly compassionate act. It can seem like a rarity in the world today. A beacon of light. An encouragement. Spend any amount of time on social media and you’ll see stories of altruistic acts making the rounds. In a world where we’re bombarded with crises of displacement, hunger, and sickness, true kindness and helping hands are healing.

If we somehow help Olive to grow more and more into someone who can be a balm to the world around her- someone whose presence heals, encourages, and helps, someone who is strong for the weak… That sounds like more than we could ever ask for.

My husband Colin and I have long settled on this: all of the physical beauty and charming wit; all of the athleticism and musical talent; all of the intelligence in the world, these things are so much less impactful when there’s not real tenderness and empathy either following or preceding it. For example: a good friend of mine is married to a very skilled, talented Emergency Room doctor. He is able to assess a multitude of different situations and make snap, life-saving decisions in seconds. This is just the opinion of one woman, but what goes hand-in-hand with his skill and ability in making him a great doctor is his ability to feel what his patients and their families feel. His heart hurts when he witnesses hardship. He sees the faces of his beautiful son and daughter when tragedy strikes a young family. It hits him hard. His empathy makes him great at what he does. And that leads me to the realization that, in wishing compassion and empathy on our daughter, we are wishing additional heaviness on her. These things are not the key to a perfectly blissful, happy life. I think many parents would hope for nothing but happiness upon their children- but wishing for these things will not accomplish that kind of life (if it even exists). It leads to feeling the weight of those around you. Adding hurts to your own heart because of your care for the suffering. But how rich of a person are we when we are allowed to comfort the hurting, or be allowed into others’ lives in a real way?

The important thing for my husband and I to remember is that we are her very first models of compassion. In the way we teach her to care for our dog. In the way we speak to one another. In how we expend our resources, whether they be money, time spent, or something else. It’s teaching her that humans and creatures are worthy of respect and care. That is what we value, and we hope it is evident in how we live.

What is that one intangible that you would wish upon your child? Why? How could you take steps to help them grow in that, specifically? I’d love to hear!

RachelKiser_200TallAbout Rachel Kiser

Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.

View all posts by Rachel Kiser here.


0 Comments on “I Want My Daughter To Be a Beacon and a Light”

  1. My daughter now at 28 and waiting the arrival of her first child come Feb. .She is a light i have lite,it’s so amazing.

  2. This is a beautiful article. The world would be such a beautiful place if everyone spent time teaching their children compassion and kindness. I try to teach this to my girls on a daily basis.

    1. Thank you, Desirae! Your comment is timely for MLK Day today. I’m sure with a mom who desires to teach kindness in everyday life your kids will follow suit.

  3. I want my daughters to know they are loved and that they must love others even if they are different. We are a very huggy/kissy family and we tell them how much we love them everyday. We tell them when they do something nice like carry the dishes from the table that “I love when you do that thankyou so much for helping me keep our house clean.” We try to answer all their questions fully in a manner that they will understand. I want them to be good people with core values.

    1. Jesse, I love that! Such intentional affirmation. Not only will your children know you’re happy with their actions and behaviors, but they’ll know why. And they’ll know that the things they do directly impact others and their feelings. Great job, thank you for sharing!

  4. Just Beautiful! Good on you Mama…I see so many kids that aren’t blessed to have parents that teach them the most valuable lessons in life. It is as essential as a formal education! I think the one intangible we have been nourishing lately is compassion. So very important!

    1. Thank you, Tenley! That is important- you’re right. And hopefully we and our children will be able to somehow encourage and demonstrate kindness to others who can’t or don’t have that modeled to them. Such a great thought.

  5. The one thing that I won’t for.my children is for them to follow their dreams. If they want to be the.next Nashville star or a Dotor or Child care giver I will encourage and support them.so th st thief dreams can come true.

    1. I love that, Carolena! Nobody can support like a Mama. With your encouragement, your children will feel like they can do anything. What a huge role we have!

  6. Such a beautiful article that you have wrote. I wish all parents would be like this, teach their children right from wrong, teach them how they should treat others and how others treat them. I do not have children yet but someday I will and the one thing I would hope for and teach her is to love, love people whether that are rich or poor, love them whether they are talk, short, skinny, or chunky. Love them for who they are as a person. The world needs more love.

    1. It sounds like you have a great idea of what you want to instill in your future children- what beautiful truths. Loving others regardless of any differences you may see… I love that. Thanks for commenting, Christy!

  7. What a beautifully written and heartfelt piece! I Think such similar things when I think about my son… I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and I have met a lot of men who are less than caring, compassionate, Honest, gentle and so much more. And the one thing I always feel grateful about is that I have the opportunity to give the world, to give our society, or more directly in my community a good man. I know as parents we cannot control everything about who our children will become but we do have a very big impact. And I feel good knowing that I can, if I always keep the best intentions and try to do the best that I can, send out into the world a man who encompasses all of the wonderful traits that every woman deserves in a partner, friend, father, sibling or lover.

    1. Kristan- your comment really spoke to me! How true that is. I really think that some of the most genuinely compassionate people in the world are the ones who have made mistakes. We learn how important it is to receive compassion, and in turn are able to give it with empathy. You are such a good Mom for wanting to raise your son to love well. Keep doing what you’re doing- you are doing the world such a favor. Hugs!

  8. after reading about the post I want my daughter to be a beacon in the light I totally understand discussing who you would want your kids to be more like do you want them to be more like the daddy or more like the mommy I for one truthfully hope that my kids have their dads work ethic and I hope my children has my giving this my patience for sure lol but I also want them to be their own person

    1. Jodie- it sounds like you have some awesome aspirations for your kids’ character… and it also sounds like your children have great role models in you and your husband for your patience and strong work ethic. Keep doing what you’re doing- they’re watching you both as you live your lives!

    1. Jordon- it encourages me to no end to read all of these comments… I am sure your children are already lights to those around them. Sometimes it’s hard to be intentional in the everyday grind, but there are so many opportunities to teach kindness, aren’t there?

    1. Megan, your daughter is lucky to have you! You must be a compassionate person to desire that for her over all else. I’m sure you’re doing a great job.

    1. Erin- I am so happy to hear that- surely our generation will raise compassionate, gentle-hearted children if we make it our goal. That’s my hope, too.

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