I watched him run. He was ready. He had joy on his face. Every lap counted. He was running for charity and he is only a pre-schooler. Other, older and bigger kids ran further and longer, but he was giving it his best. He had a great attitude. He was making a difference greater than he probably understood. Crosby was helping. Twice as I was watching, he stopped briefly and talked to me. I felt honored. Though we see each other regularly at church, this was the most conversation we ever had.
Crosby taught me an important lesson. Even young children can give to others. Sometimes as parents we get in the way. We may think they can’t do much or they are too young. True he could not address the letters that were mailed requesting support, but he did the running.
Helping our children develop giving hearts can be challenging. Like many other worthwhile endeavors it takes time, energy, and a little creativity. Children often have plenty of all of these. They may have some wild and crazy ideas and some of those may be perfect.
Why not challenge yourself and your children to discover ways to give to others. Perhaps start with one project per season of the year. It could be as simple as raking the neighbor’s leaves or taking them some homemade pumpkin muffins. Try sharing some of those surplus tomatoes from your garden.
Giving to others makes us better people. It helps us to focus on others’ needs and less on ourselves. As we share our stuff with others, our stuff becomes a little less important to us and the people become more important.
Recently one of our local high school sewing classes made colorful pillowcases for a hospital pediatric ward. I applaud these students and their teacher for using their abilities to serve others. I am continually amazed at the generosity of my city.
What has your family done to serve someone else? How have you managed to involve your children? Please share your ideas.
I don’t play soccer. Do you? Some of our sons played. I always enjoyed watching them. I even wore a sweatshirt on which I had cross stitched a pennant, a ball, and the words SOCCER MOM. Even though I have seen many games, I still do not completely understand “off sides”.
Our oldest son played on park district teams for several years. He loved the game so much that after he “aged” out of the program he took a job working for the district as a soccer referee. He said refereeing the game was the easy part. Dealing with “passionate” parents was the hard part. On one windy and drizzly fall day at this job, he was miserable. He recalls specifically praying that someone would offer him some hot chocolate. God answered that prayer, when mom arrived with a thermos of the comforting drink.
Now he is coaching his eldest son’s team and watching the younger son’s team play. I recently had the honor of watching them all. It is fun to observe my son as dad and coach. He is doing a great job at both.
Soccer has some parallels to parenting.
- In the game with young players the coach has every player point in the direction of the goal at the start of each half. Everyone must know where the goal is located and which direction they must take the ball to score. In parenting, spouses must be in agreement on goals. They have to work together. And they must have a united front. If they are not united,those sweet darlings will put a wedge between them to their selfish advantage and no one wins.
- From the sidelines, the ball may appear to be in the net, but it has fallen short. Sometimes the ball rolls beside the net or behind the net. What is obvious to the players may not be clear to the spectators on the sidelines. Parents sometimes need to consider situations from their child’s perspective. We may be missing some details or information which would cause us to form different conclusions. Give ample opportunity to your children to share their side of all conflicts.
- Soccer players need fans. They are energized by the cheers from the sidelines. Parents need cheerleaders too. Parental cheerleaders are hard to find. Spouses can be that for each other. Speak up when you see others doing well at parenting. Find a source to emotionally build you up as a parent.
- The player we used to call the goalie is now called a keeper. Keepers have additional practice and training. Sometimes parents need additional training. I did. I was always seeking input from magazines, books, radio talk shows, and other parents on how to handle parenting issues. Occasionally I received uninvited advice that I didn’t want to hear but needed.
- In soccer there are defensive positons and offensive positions. Each has a specific job to do. Parents have to do both and know when to do which one. Parents must support and defend their child, but also challenge and equip them for life. It is a huge job and it last 18 plus years, not four fifteen minute quarters.
- Soccer teams have coaches to train the players and lead throughout the game. Sometimes with shouting. Parents have a heavenly Father, who loves them, and desires to give guidance and direction. Usually with a still, quiet voice. Both want victory.
Parents, God is on your side. Family is his plan.