Saturday, January 15, 2011

Raising a Compassionate Child and Helper

I am such a lucky mommy.

Not only do I have a great child (what can I say, I am biased), I have a little girl who loves to help. She helps at home, enjoys helping at school and has also joined me in helping others who are in need by sharing her belongings.

Sarah has enjoyed helping me bake and set the table. She likes to tackle adult tasks like collecting leaves and shoveling snow, and even taking out the garbage and collecting the mail. Sarah has also taken an interest in something very near and dear to my heart, and that's volunteering, more so as far as sharing her belongings to provide to others who really could benefit.

Well before meeting Daniel and having Sarah I invested much of my free time to helping others through volunteer efforts of various kinds. Thinking back on them now brings a great smile to my face. I donated many piles of clothing, books, household items and more to places like Good Will and faith-based organizations. I have worked in soup kitchens, helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity and walked in many walk-a-thons and ridden numerous miles on my bicycle for health related causes that also involved fundraising thousands of dollars. I am most proud of the experiences I had working with children both as a way to expose them to new experiences, helping in hospitals to support therapists training children to crawl and play, and also in the maternity ward helping comfort moms, a place where I later delivered my precious Sarah.

One particular volunteering experience, which lasted many months, was one that brought the heaviest of heart experiences. I was living and working in New York City when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place. I couldn't function and volunteering was my outlet to feel useful. I needed and wanted to help in any way I possibly could.

I love the gift of giving and intend very much to keep that as a part of my life. It's with great hope that I can help to raise Sarah with similar passion to want to help others. Raising children is hard work. Raising them to be loving and compassionate takes even greater work. And, I look forward to continuing to expose her the value of the selfless acts and teach her the importance of sharing, caring and helping.

As much as I want to believe that my child was born to be a helper I have come to realize that Daniel and I have played a significant role in helping her to foster this interest thus far.

I truly believe that if you live the life you want your children to emulate they will sometimes, hopefully, follow along in some of your passions and interests as well.

Very early on in Sarah's life, when the Haiti crisis took place there were many clothing and toy drives established to help send things to those in need who lost just about everything. It was then that I asked Sarah to help me pack up some of her toys, books and clothes that she was no longer playing with or wearing including blankets that she was not using as frequently as others she adored. Then, I explained that we would share them with children who are less fortunate than her and in greater need. While she likely had no idea of what we were doing, she seemed to agree and together we took her belongings to the donation site.

Further, one of Sarah's former teachers who was also her babysitter did a lot for her own family and community that involved collecting belongings to share around. Many times after cleaning out Sarah's closet of things that no longer fit or toys she outgrew, I would ask her, if it would be okay to donate them to others in need. Again, and this time a bit older, she obliged.

While, it's likely that Sarah still doesn't quite understand the concept of donating and sharing with others in need I will say that her passion for helping others is indeed present and one that Daniel and I intend to foster over time. I intend to continue to expose Sarah to opportunities where we can help others whether it's in sharing our things or physically helping others.

I look forward to the many experiences we will have together growing up with Sarah and building her interests in helping others and to do it together as a family, bringing us even closer.

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