Most parents raise their kids hoping for them to be nice. They want their kids to be a good friend and to be kind to others. We want other things for our children too. Things like a focus on academics, or a drive to succeed in their job, or healthy relationships. We want them to live well-rounded lifestyles. But if we could pick one simple thing we would say we just want nice, happy adults.
As a parent myself, I tend to worry about my kids. I over-analyze their actions. Every time they argue, or refuse to share, or are rude I convince myself that I am messing it all up. Between my three kids, someone is always making me wonder if we are getting it right. Parenting is such a challenge, so up and down. My fear is that we will get it wrong and end up with a big bill in therapy someday. I work myself up because I am so focused on raising nice kids. Nice kids that I want to be nice adults someday.
Today, something changed my perspective.
My boys' school is collecting money for Pennies for Patients. It is for children with cancer. I kind of blew it off because well we had other things we were working on this month and I assumed that an 8 year old and a 5 year old were just not going to be interested in giving their spare change to any cause. I forgot all about their little collection boxes. Until today.
While we were preparing to leave today my five year old son Oliver was running through the house with his bag half open. As he shuffled through the kitchen I heard coins clunking around in his backpack and spilling out onto our floor. I stopped him to make him empty his bag and clean up the coins, thinking he was bringing money to school for fun. When I started to open his bag and told him not to bring money to school he stopped me. "Mom! WAIT!" He told me with his hand up. He scooped up the coins and pulled out his little collection box and put them all back in.
Then it hit me. Wow. He was bringing money to school to give, not for fun. I was flabbergasted. We hadn't even talked about the penny drive together.
I counted out his coins with him, curious what he decided to donate. He had a total of $1.03 in change. Such a tiny little offering. I asked him if he really wanted to give his money and if it was important to him. He nodded his head yes enthusiastically. He insisted on it. Kind of a proud moment for me. I told him that this was really special and that I would match his gift. So we pulled out my wallet and counted out more coins together until we had a total of two dollars and six cents. He was just giddy at this point and his little sister thought this was of course very exciting so she was jumping up and down too.
This whole experience reminded me of the Widow's Offering in Mark 12:41-44.
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting
money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a
poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to
you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing
to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance,
but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to
I hugged him and I told him about the widow giving all that she could and how it was such a great gift. I told him his gift was like the widow's gift. It was small but it was great too.
My perspective changed today because of his willingness to empty his tiny little piggy bank. He wasn't just being nice. He was giving all that he could. He was being selfless. He was putting someone else before his own wants and needs.
Really, my son taught me a lesson about being selfless. His giving casts a big light on my own unwillingness to give. To my own reluctance to give joyfully. My son taught me that I need to look at my own self and do some thinking of my own. I need to be better about giving more of myself in several areas of my life. My adult mind struggles with this concept.Giving hurts sometimes. For him though it was easy. I want for my heart to be like his. I want to give with joy.
I don't just want "nice" kids anymore. I want us to be more selfless. I want kids that give from their heart in all that they do. I want givers. Givers that give something up and make sacrifices because it means helping someone in their moment of need. I want givers that use whatever they have available--time, money, talents-- to bless others. Because that is the right thing to do. Not just to be nice and polite. But to give people a little more than that. To give people yourself too.