Have you ever had one of those experiences with your child that makes you beam with pride and want to tell the whole neighborhood? I had just such an experience my oldest son; and I was proud to share it with several people. But their response made me pause and come to a startling realization that brought me back to the responsibility I have as a parent.
Here’s what happened.
My son and I were out washing the van on a cloudy day; I know, sounds weird, but it really needed washed. Still bein young he can’t do much, but he sure loves to be a “big helper” for daddy. So I was washing the van and he was putting soap on the places I had just rinsed. But we were enjoying our time and I was glad we could do it together.
As we washed I told Judah that some kids didn’t have enough water and were thirsty. (I try to bring real life into our mundane activities in order to teach my kids truth.) My son looked puzzled and asked, “How do they wash their cars without water?” I replied that some kids don’t have cars, or food, or water.
My sons response nearly brought me to tears and I beamed with pride as he said, “Well, you can take money from my bank to buy them a car and some food.” I told him that was a great idea and we would do that one day.
Later that night I shared this precious experience via social media with all my “friends.” After all, who would not want to share such a tender response from a child? Not long after posting the experience the “likes” and comments came pouring in. As you might expect most of the comments were praising my son for his “tender heart,” his “giving spirit,” and praising me for “doing such a great job raising him.”
Then it hit me, there is really nothing special about my sons response; nothing at all. In fact, it is quite normal and ordinary for a child at his age to think and react this way to the idea that people don’t have basic needs.
Suddenly I was filled with two thoughts that convicted me: (1) I’m not done raising my son. His response is normal now, but unless I diligently impart biblical truth to him there is no guarantee that he will respond the same way when he is older. (2) How do I respond when I realize many people around the world don’t have basic necessities?
The truth is many kids are kind, caring, and tenderhearted. And many adults are not. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood a change happened that caused these once kind, caring, tenderhearted people to grow hard, calloused, and self-centered. With this in mind it becomes critical that we as parents not only enjoy the tender moments with our kids but focus on continuing to develop them as Godly adults. There’s a few ways we can do this:
- Set the right example. Our kids need to see us showing compassion and care for those that are less fortunate, those that are sick, and those that are without. When they see this in us it will set an example that they can emulate, which will help cultivate the kind, caring, tenderhearted qualities we are so proud of.
- Don’t neglect the Word. The Bible is filled with wisdom on raising kids to be Godly, mature, responsible adults that we can be proud of. One of the worst things we could do it ignore the pages of Scripture and pretend we can do it alone. Seeking God through His Word will be invaluable as we navigate the choppy waters of raising kids.
- Keep it real. Our kids need to see what the rest of the world is like. Modern technology like the Internet makes this possible. We can show our kids pictures and videos of what kids in other parts of the world experience. I’m not advocating showing images that are not age appropriate; however I’m also not advocating keeping our kids insulated. We can develop thankfulness in our kids by showing them just how blessed they really are.
The memory of my son showing such a tender, caring heart towards those that are less fortunate will be cherished. But even more important is my responsibility to cultivate these Godly qualities in him as he grows. This critical responsibility rests with every parent and I hope we will all take it seriously and seek to impart the values we want to see in our kids.
As investments go, I can’t think of one with a greater rate of return than our children.