Everyone loves a hero. Someone who has outwitted the bad guy and saves the world. Someone whom we can love, admire and respect. Someone we can secretly aspire to be.
In our family, we have been big on exposing our children to real-life heroes – people who have made a difference in the world. Last week’s blog post shared about my son’s real-life hero and how my son managed to meet him in person. We have then tried to help them see that they can also make a difference and be someone else’s hero.
We are raising world changers. This means that they will impact the world – both in the future and, hopefully, now. In big and small ways. I look at how my kids have put the effort in to help others. An example is Matey, our son, who is currently 13 years old. As a 9 year old, he saw a problem when he was walking down Flinders Street in our city of Melbourne. He saw beggars and didn’t know what to do. That instance raised a whole lot of great questions: Should we stop? Should we give them some money? Should we hurry past? Is it better to buy them food than give them money?
Matey came home and researched and found that one of the biggest issues facing homeless people is trying to keep warm. Thus, he began collecting brand new pairs of socks for homeless people. He researched and found out that there are over 23,000 homeless people in our state of Victoria. He set a goal to collect 50,000 pairs of brand new socks so that every homeless person can have 2 pairs of socks each, one to wear whilst the other is being washed. In these last 4 years, he has collected and donated over 25,000 pairs of brand new socks to the homeless. Check out ‘2 Pairs Each’ on Facebook and his website – www.2pairseach.com.au
I have listed below 5 ways that we can help our children to have inspirational ‘heroes’ in their life. Heroes that they can look up to, learn from, be inspired to live a better life, hone their character etc.
- What they read.
Great books are brilliant for sourcing exemplary people who are worth emulating, people just like you and your children but who have made a sacrifice to do something for others. When my children were younger, I made it a point to always have great books for them to read and to read to them. We didn’t buy books that had ‘toilet humour’. Instead, I ‘fed’ them books about people who had given their life for others, people who had helped to change other people’s lives in big and small ways. My children read a lot of biographies. The ‘YWAM Christian Heroes Then and Now’ Series by Janet & Geoff Benge is invaluable for helping children to get a perspective of the world, real-life mission stories and people who are real heroes.
- What they listen to.
It is so important to be aware of what they listen to. Your voice can become their inner voice so watch what you say to them and about them, especially in moments of frustration. Their friends’ voices can influence greatly, thus it is important to help your children be wise in how they select their friends and who they hang around with. The songs they listen to can greatly impact them. We had a lot of great books on audio tape and my kids listened to them a lot, especially my child who is an auditory learner. The values that get transmitted into their brain when they are playing whilst listening to great values in stories is invaluable.
- What they see and watch.
When the children were smaller, I was very careful with what they watched and how much television they were exposed to. We saw great value in obtaining DVD’s that had great morals and values, especially those based around biographies of people.
- Look at character and values of people and help your children develop in these.
Help your children brainstorm character values and traits like honesty, courage, kindness, perseverance, loyalty, compassion, responsibility, integrity etc. We often chatted about real life heroes, their challenges and obstacles and how they helped people and the character traits they had. Invite people around to your place for a meal and ask them to share their life stories. We love having missionaries around and gleaning from them real-life stories and helping our children hear what is possible. Make a poster together as a family that you can display somewhere central for your family to be reminded. Find ways to help enlarge your child’s imagination as to what may be possible. Help them set goals and aspire to make a difference.
- Serve together as a family.
Modelling is one of the biggest ways that we see what is possible and how we learn. Find somewhere to start serving together as a family and to help others. When Princess was 8 years old, we were invited one evening to help out at a meal for people who struggled in life. Most of the people at the meal had mental illness. After that night, she insisted that we become part of the team. For 18 months, we travelled a 1 ½ hour round trip each Wednesday evening to serve at that meal. A number of times she would make biscuits or apple crumble or something to take. Each week we would turn up, serve, sit and chat with the folk and debrief on the way home. It was such a special time for her and me as we chatted on the drive home about the behaviour of various people and how their mental illness affected their behaviour in various ways etc. It was a growing and learning time.
I encourage you, friends, to help your children have great heroes, but to also become heroes to others by the way they live their life.