Letter From the Publishers, August 2019
Kendra & Jacqueline, Co-Publishers
Reflecting on our August issue’s highlights of kids and pets, I don’t have far to look to find inspired children leading the way with their compassion and awareness of others. A 7-year-old friend is manifesting his dream of a yearly child-created art auction with proceeds to benefit local refugees and homeless persons. Teens are stepping up in their schools to lead inclusive groups, while others advocate for the health of our planet, volunteer at animal rescues and clean up riverbanks and roadsides. These are just a few examples of how children and adolescents in our community inspire with their empathy for others and a vision for a connected world.
Today kids face a much different childhood than what many of us experienced. Technology advancing at breakneck speeds is bringing new challenges. Meredith Montgomery confronts this in “21st Century Parenting: Preparing Kids for the Future.” She provides insights into raising kind, resilient and resourceful kids in a rapidly changing and sometimes stressful world.
Studies show that interactions with animals can help alleviate stress. Therapy animals of all stripes help humans to relax and let go of anxiety, whether it be during a counseling session, at a school or hospital, at a hospice or library, in a courtroom, or when there’s been a traumatic event. Denise Daniels, a child development expert, stated in the Washington Post a few years ago that having a dog as a family pet increases emotional intelligence (EQ) in children, a better predictor of success in school than intelligence. Dogs provide lessons in unconditional love and acceptance without judgement. To meet their needs, children are required to pay attention to non-verbal cues, building empathy skills that extend to relations with peers and other living creatures.
Aysha Akhtar, author of Our Symphony With Animals: On Health, Empathy and Our Shared Destinies, weighs in on the biology of the human/animal bond, affirming that “animals have a purity that helps us be our true selves without worrying about being judged.” Because of the very fact that they are animals, they “diffuse the human-generated pressure in our lives” so important with the rising levels of stress and anxiety faced by all of us, children included.
As we move through summer and into the fall, may we inspire and be inspired by the children around us, together expressing kindness and compassion towards all living things.
Let’s leave our phones indoors, take off our shoes and rest in a shady spot as we dream of ways to create a more loving, more beautiful and healthier world.
~Jacqueline and Kendra