Can you be too compassionate?

<p>Daughter spent some time in high school in Ghana, and her gap year ( well more like 1/2 yr) in India. Still very upset about the poverty she witnessed and recently has suggested dropping out of college & using the money to help children who are hungry.</p>

<p>Trying to emphasize she can help them by finishing her education and finding a way to make a difference by concentrating on a few areas. She is quite overwhelmed with the numbers of poor families, by environmental destruction/loss of wildlife habitat, etc....</p>

<p>I feel that her courses/profs are contributing to her sense of hopelessness & I am getting worried about her, frankly. ( she is preparing to enter the environmental school & has been taking various economic/political courses- )</p>

<p>I am proud of all that she has accomplished, including her work abroad, but I also want her to value small things & small steps so that she doesn't feel so overwhelmed.</p>

<p>Im thinking of taking her with me today to K-Mart to pay off someones layaway, but I also wonder if it would backfire if she sees a list of cheap toys she thinks could be sold to buy someone food.</p>

<p>How do you help your kids get perspective?</p>

<p>I concentrate on just a few areas where I donate money/time & that is enough for me. But D has seen so much more need than I have, that I really don't know how to help her.</p>

<p>I would encourage her to help those in need through becoming educated to obtain a career where she can make a difference way more than by donating some money now. Talk to her about the types of work she could get into that pursues this interest and encourage her to talk to professors about this idea and also to anyone you might know who is doing this kind of work professionally. She can reach more people through this avenue than donating some money now. </p>

<p>Also, I am not sure what you mean about donating the money she would have spent on the degree. I don't know how you are set up with your kids but in my family, we offered to fund their education. We did not offer the money to do with as they pleased. They were offered this opportunity for college, not a sum of money. Not sure where your D would get the money to donate?</p>

<p>My thoughts? Give your daughter a hug for me. She is a good person.</p>

<p>I think she needs some time. It sounds like she almost has a form of PTSD. She needs to realize the truth of what (it sounds like) you have tried to tell her. If she gave away every cent of her money today to combat hunger, it would not be the most long-term cost-effective solution. Much more productive for her to finish her education and work over the course of her adult life to support policies to combat poverty and injustice.</p>

<p>Also, as you are doing, continue to do good works in your own town. Think globally, act locally.</p>

<p>Not sure where your D would get the money to donate?</p>

<p>This is true- I didn't point out to her that some of the money actually came from loans and isn't * extra* money that is laying around just waiting for someone to spend it. as if!</p>

<p>The point about PTSD is a good one- I am going to continue to help her to find a counselor for her in her college town & keep the PTSD in mind.</p>

<p>We live simply ourselves- the reason why her gap year program was half a year, was because she was working two jobs to pay for it during the other half.</p>

<p>I also have more empathy for someone who wants to do more, as opposed to the students who are fixated on making 6 figures by the time they are 25, but she at least has a good chance of finding a way to feel like she is making a difference.</p>

<p>She is planning on getting an education/environmental degree from the environmental school- not sure if that will qualify her to teach right away but I expect she will be applying for Peace Corps ASAP anyway.</p>

<p>The main thing isn't that she is "too compassionate" but rather helping her to channel that compassion in effective ways by pursuing a career that will make a difference. I think focusing energy into figuring out that path is a good thing for now. Peace Corps is another great idea too.</p>

<p>Does she want to teach? Because other ways to help would be to get involved in organizations and policy making and that end of things.</p>

<p>She leans toward marine biology but also is quite good with middle school age kids ( she was a residential camp counselor for several years)- also is working on the newspaper this next qtr- so I may try and encourage her to follow the state legislature- environmental lobby day etc.</p>

<p>She is at a disadvantage being a first gen kid- as neither my husband or I really are comfortable at " working" connections , even when we have them. I find it hard to know what is appropriate, but she doesn't usually ask for help & has asked for help finding internships so I will have to see what I can do.</p>

<p>Student seems to have lofty, admirable desires and hopes. Helping a little now rather than helping much more later isn't "too compassionate". It is a poor plan, and actualyy would be to the detriment of those to be helped. And, if it involves spending someone else's money that isn't too compassionate either.</p>

<p>Like the others that have posted here, I would also discourage my offspring from dropping out to help right now. (given the conditions you outlined).
First, I'd try to persuade that an educated, and perhaps employed person can likely help far more than a high school educated person with no job over there, despite good intentions. In this example I think of medical personnel that travel and volunteer their time and skills.
Second, like Skyhook has mentioned, there are people here that need help, despite commecials on tv that show only world-wide poverty.
How she has changed her behavior here, and now (with local disadvantaged) since she has been back would influence me deciding if this was merely some grand dream(like- I wanna be a rock star!) or whether this was truly a sudden, profound change.
Lastly, for me, I'd bring up the money. Op says "using the [college] money to help children who are hungry." Whose money? Parents? Taxpayers? Her own? And how would this unemployed individual, college drop-out expect to help the poor after she runs out of her own money? I am assuming the student has already demonstrated her seriousness by selling off her "extras" to help the poor, such as sold her pc, sold her cell phone, sold off designer/extra clothes, and has sworn off those extra pizzas, booze, make-up, movies, and such, and sending that money to the poor? If not, then her appeal of possibly spending someone else's money on the poor is a little less credible. Without such sacrifices, it would tend to indicate she was willing to sacrifice other people's money.
A big reason I would discuss the money part as the last of my discussion would be to avoid the likely rebuttal that money is all I care about.</p>

<p>Sure, student can do what she wants with her money, but could do SO much more after he/she gets an education and a job. I am reminded of the parable about giving a man a fish...</p>

<p>younghoss- this was said as part of an emotional release that I think had been building for a while- I don't think she is honestly considering dropping out anytime soon but after a stressful qtr, I think she was frustrated especially when in proximity to her friends that are more focused on what they can get out of their parents for Christmas.;)</p>

<p>She doesn't live like a monk- nor do I expect her to, she is 21 & part of her job is to learn how to take care of herself before she can take care of others. </p>

<p>Her time abroad was an extension of how she already felt and acted but as she didn't talk much about it to us, I didn't realize how deeply it affected her. I just enjoyed seeing photos like the one of 6 kids all sitting in her lap at the same time!</p>

<p>Also, most of her other local friends are now back for the break including her best friend who had been doing medical care/study abroad in India & with whom she can talk.</p>

<p>I agree that where you could help is helping her see the bigger picture. That her college money is a drop in the bucket vs. Her educated, well conceived plan to make a big impact on poverty from a position of Strength and credibility that will come through education and experience. Have her read about Lauren Andreessen and other great, contemporary philanthropists.</p>

<p>Maybe a good metaphor would be the instructions we are all given as our airplane is about to take flight. Those who are traveling with young children are instructed to get their masks in place before helping children to get theirs in place. Perhaps you can help your daughter to see that by completing her education, she is placing herself in a position to be of the most assistance to those who need assistance, her education being her metaphorical oxygen mask, and the fruit of her education being the mask for others. Just a thought.</p>

<p>If she wants to feel that she can make a difference in those countries right now, help her direct her energies (and extra cash if she has it) toward a group that inspires her. When DS was feeling overwhelmed with this, he heard a story on NPR (local show called Worldview). He got in touch with someone and has focused some of his volunteering/fundraising efforts toward it.
The next time that she starts to feel overwhelmed with the sorrow, encourage her to do something RIGHT NOW. Food banks, homeless shelter, etc. all can use short-term help. she will feel better, and a little more in control of her situation. Also, let her see that NGOs and Peace Corp, even Red Cross need professionals. If she wants to dedicate a few years of her life, the best way is to become educated in something and be willing to share that knowledge.</p>

<p>Take a look at the KIVA website. They provide micro-loans to people around the world so that they can become self-sufficient. You can loan small ($25) (or larger) amounts of money to a specific person (or small groups) to help them start businesses. The money is not just a donation, it is an actual interest-free loan that will be repaid to you in time. I know other groups do this also but KIVA is the only one I've researched and had actual experience with. Business needs range from buying chickens to sell eggs, or helping buy a motorcycle for someone who has a business making deliveries. You can look over the business plans and help someone out. It's a very real thing to do--put food on the table for people by helping to give them a source of income. When a loan is repaid you can either turn the money over to another project or keep it. It's also uplifting--no one is asking for just a handout but they do need help.</p>

<p>I would point out to her that it is better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish.</p>

<p>So she should be thinking about long term plans for helping people - becoming a doctor to provide health care? learning about agriculture to help grow food? studying economics to understand the market forces that lead to poverty? - etc.</p>

<p>It is very difficult to tackle the root causes of poverty. She will need all the education she can get to do so.</p>

<p>Send her to me. I'll put her to work. World doesn't need more doctors. There are plenty of doctors in India (that's why they come here) and in most of Africa. But there isn't clean water, and more people have died in the past decade of waterborne illnesses than all wars combined. </p>

<p>If she's in Washington or Oregon, we can train her. And put her to good work. (She'll raise her own salary, which is essentially what IBankers do). If she has a car, I can show her how to save literally HUNDREDS of lives a year by collecting old shoes. Really.</p>

<p>And even if she's in school, and decides to stay, I can help.</p>

<p>You know where to find me. You want to meet? Give me a call. (I'm being perfectly serious. We were literally discussing yesterday how we could put some young folks to work!)</p>

<p>(and, no, you can't be too compassionate!)</p>

<p>Having been to Africa several times on business, I can sympathize with her wanting to do more. Lots of good advise here, especially the parable “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”. </p>

<p>If she really wants to help, she should get her education and return to make a permanent difference, rather than throw money at the people. Another point to make is that many of the aid organizations are not efficient with their funds, so she would be paying for overhead and the money would not be making its way to the people. </p>

<p>With an education, she can return and make a difference. IF she does consider Peace Corps, tell her not to try to be 'tough' and live like the villagers. I have a friend who was in Benin 7 years ago and needed to talk a mile to water and ended up getting sick and coming home to finish her commitment with AmeriCorps. </p>

<p>Another angle is that she should consider working with the poor in the US.</p>

<p>You cannot be too compassionate, as long as you are also being as effective as possible (and also avoid infringing on the rights of others in the pursuit of your own ideas about what should be done). </p>

<p>We all have to discover our own ways to contribute, and what one of us thinks is right or fair may not be exactly what someone else thinks about those things. There are an infinite number of problems to solve. Because of this it is very important that we not impose our own decisions about which ones deserve our attention, or our ideas about how to do the work. </p>

<p>In terms of how we serve, for some it is hands on work. Others create businesses or work at jobs which generate wealth to fund projects. For some of us it is a combination of the two. No one has a right to judge which of these options is better or more worthy than the other. We all have to follow our own hearts to see where our talents can best be used. Without those willing to be on the front lines, nothing can be accomplished. Without those who have wealth contributing to the cause, the same is true. </p>

<p>Compassion isn't really a problem unless it becomes its own end, or when it clouds reason. Results are paramount, and I am sure the suffering of the world would agree. </p>

<p>Let's pray that we always have an abundance of people willing to roll up their sleeves and serve on location where needs are many, but that we also have an abundance of people inspired to create businesses and products in order to generate wealth necessary to fund worthy projects.</p>

Often society says to not wear our hearts on our sleeves, to not be too compassionate. I can say I have heard this all my life. It wasn't until I was 50 till I realized...I am who I am. I like who I am. I believe I make a difference in the world. If others feel a need to tell me I am too compassionate, then that is their issue, and not mine.
I share this, because I can relate to what your D may be experiencing. In my teens I worked in the jungles of Guatemala and Honduras. I would then come home...and have to shift gears. Then later in my 20's the same thing...only the adjustment seemed to take longer.
Living in an environ such as the areas of India is beyond what many in the USA can fathom. Even those who work with the poor in the USA. The inequity, and the desire to be a part of the solution, is profound. It permeates my whole being, and it may hers as well.
My take away.....there will always be people who have more money than me and people who have less money than me. am I going to treat them? What am I going to do to make them feel loved, and cared for? This may be overseas for her-or-right here in the USA. An education is something that has opened doors for me to help even more people. Not everyone is meant to go to college, however I have never regretted finishing.
My parents were very supportive of my decisions, and my sense is that you will be,too.

<p>I am very pleased to hear the student isn't really considering quitting college as other posters and I thought(Para 1). I guess I misunderstood the Origpost, and thought Kity4 was trying to persuade student to stay in school(Para 2).
Best wishes to student!</p>