Teaching Your Kids To Pay It Forward

Teaching our kids to be good citizens and to give to others is not always an easy proposition.  Kids these days seem to be pre-disposed to “getting” and “asking for” and not always seeing others around them.  I feel as if my children are pretty darn blessed in this life.  Especially Shea.

With the numerous grants we get for her, she is able to ride a bike, go to camp, do intensive therapies we couldn’t afford to pay for.  And last September she was given her wish to go to Disney World through the Sunshine Foundation.  Her “Dream Come True” was really a dream for the whole family, as we were all able to share it with her.  A peaceful, fully funded, magical trip that our kids will never forget.

On Wednesday Shea was asked to pay it forward, and to present a Dream to two little girls at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital.  The two little five year olds, who have Spina Bifida, are best friend’s and are getting their special wish to go see the princesses together with their families.  Shea was asked to present their gifts at the hospital event.  Immediately when I told her, all choked up at how beautiful it was to be asked, she said NO.  She was not doing it, she was scared, and that was that.

As her Mom I know this is her knee jerk reaction to new things, but I stood firm and told her this was happening and I would be with her the whole way.  I wanted her to see that she gets a lot, she is very lucky, and she needs to give back sometimes to keep the goodness going.  Pay it forward.  And I wanted her brother and sister to be there too, and to see how this is done.  No, you are not going to Disney World again, but you are going to make two other kids very happy when you tell them that they are going.  And that is enough.  Paying it forward and being good to other people fills you up.  Not in the same way as when you get a gift, but in an even better, deeper way.

It is hard to teach.  Hard to mirror for your kids everyday.  Saying thank you to the person working the drive thru, stopping to let someone cross the street or pull out in front of you, being aware when there is someone near you that needs an extra bit of attention.  My son asks me “why do you talk to everyone?  why do you say thanks to everyone?” so I know he notices.

The Sunshine Foundation and the people that work for them, are true angels.  They are selfless and happy when they see a child smile, and realize they can help them to achieve their dream.  It is a truly special organization, with an amazing mission, and I am so proud that they asked my daughter and my family to be part of it.


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