Greater Good Parenting: Raising Caring, Courageous Kids
Parents want to raise kind, caring, courageous children but few feel like they know precisely how to do that. In order to help bridge the gap between research and the daily lives of parents, the Greater Good Science Center, supported by the John Templeton Foundation, launched an initiative with three components to help parents raise kids of high character who treat others with compassion and respect.
1. Parent Resources
The GGSC has developed a range of new resources sharing with parents the top research and best practices on raising children who are supportive of others and committed to something bigger than themselves. This includes publishing dozens of new articles for parents on Greater Good, creating several practical exercises for parents to try with their kids on Greater Good in Action, and producing a series of short videos designed for mobile devices and social media to reach busy parents on-the-go.
These resources identify and report on cutting-edge scientific findings and are organized by eight strengths:
- Forgiveness: Freely choosing to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed us, giving up the desire or power to punish.
- Generosity: Not simply giving but giving more than is expected in a situation, incurring a cost to promote someone else’s welfare.
- Gratitude: Acknowledging the gifts and benefits we’ve received and recognizing that the sources of this goodness come from outside of ourselves.
- Honesty: Behaving or expressing yourself in a way that is fair, free of deceit, and morally correct.
- Humility: Being able to see and accept one’s own strengths and limitations without defensiveness or judgment.
- Love: Serving others without expectation of reward or repayment, not limited to romantic relationships.
- Purpose: Intending to do something that feels personally meaningful and is also directed toward improving the lives of others.
- Reliability: Being consistently good in quality or performance; behaving responsibly, by actually doing what we pledge to do.
2. Grants to Support Community-based Parenting Programs
The GGSC selected and provided a total of $1 million in funding to 16 community-based organizations (e.g., schools, houses of worship, community centers) that have strong connections to parents of school-age children. These organizations' proposals sought to create or improve an innovative program to help parents build strengths like generosity, gratitude, and forgiveness in their kids. After awarding these grants, the GGSC and a team of scientific advisors have been helping the organizations identify research relevant to their programs, translate this research into lessons for parents, and determine how to better evaluate the success of their work.
The grant recipients are Camp Kindness Counts, Citywise Mentoring Ltd, Collaborative for Educational Services, Congregation Adat Reyim, Family Engagement Lab, Family Paths Inc, GreatSchools, Kaveri Group of Institutes, Lutheran Social Service, Pinyon Foundation, Senders Pediatrics, Tariq Khamisa Foundation, UCAN, United Schools of Indianapolis, University Village, and Vibrant Faith.
3. Events to identify “what works.”
The GGSC will twice bring scientific experts together with the community-based organizations awarded a grant through the initiative. One event was held in June 2018 to review and share the organizations’ plans; the other will be held toward the end of the initiative, to identify and discuss their successes, challenges, and lessons learned. These convenings will both help the organizations learn more from the scientific experts, and from each other, while enabling them to share insights from their experiences “on the ground.” An underlying goal of the initiative is to identify several promising approaches for supporting parents, and their children, that can be scaled up or extended to other communities.