Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sharing Leads to Caring

My youngest child, who entered her teenage years at warp speed, flipped off her bus driver last month and got sentenced to 2 days of after-school detention. After we managed to successfully overcome her father's legal objections to these consequences (footnote* below), she served her time, but the whole ordeal clearly had little impact.

I was particularly disappointed in her behavior as it came immediately after a conversation we had had about respecting authority and being kind to others. Seeing as how shooting the finger is commonly accepted as both mean and disrespectful, I can only assume that her assurances of understanding during our conversation were a total sham. 

Since my older two girls, at 22 and 27, have already passed through their tumultuous adolescence, including the horrific "Mom is a hopeless idiot only worthy of a teenager's condescending pity and fervent scorn" period, I often turn to them for wisdom. When I brought up this incident, which we now refer to as #FingerLawGate, I found they had already been discussing it, and had arrived at a conclusion:  Zoe needs to learn how to give a crap about someone besides herself.  

In an instant, I knew they were right. Periodically, I look over the 40 Developmental Assets Checklist to see where Zoe falls. She's very well taken care of, resourced and privileged, so I don't generally worry too much. But a week before #FingerLawGate I had attended a training on the Assets and it struck me that her exposure to opportunities to really help others was very limited.  I've always taken for granted that my kids have this exposure, given my work in the nonprofit arena. Ariel and Lacey really lived the Big Brothers Big Sisters experience alongside me. They went to all the activities we planned for the kids and volunteers. That was back when I was working more directly in the program, but these days my job is much more administrative. Hence Zoe has learned all about how to ask people for money. She could grow up to be a great fundraiser with her excellent communication skills, thick skin and persevering nature.  Also, as I've gotten older and more attuned to the need for work/life balance, Zoe has had less and less of my job inflicted on her. This is not necessarily a good thing. 

So, my older girls had already decided that Zoe needed more opportunities to care for others outside of herself and her family and be exposed to those less fortunate than she. We discussed a few options and landed on adopting a family for Christmas. This idea just filled me with joy and I don't understand why we haven't done this before!   I researched it online because I know there are lots of great holiday assistance programs out there. In the end, though, we decided to adopt a Big Brothers Big Sisters family, because many of them don't get enrolled in time in holiday assistance programs. Big Brothers Big Sisters doesn't have a holiday assistance program per se, but it has lots of families who could use help. 

I will share in a future post about our experience adopting a family! Happy Holidays! 

Here is a list of organization's that have Adopt a Family opportunities for anyone who is interested. 

  1. Family Service Association Adopt a Family Program 
  2. Angel Tree 
  3. Elf Louise 
  4. Blue Santa
  5. Here is a great post by San Antonio Mom Blogs on Holiday Opportunities for Families to Volunteer

This cartoon exists on Google, so maybe this happens more than I realized. Thank you #stillnotok

*Her dad called the middle school principle to insist that Zoe was not on school grounds when she flipped off her bus driver, having exited the bus in our neighborhood before bringing out the finger. Therefore the school had no jurisdiction to punish her. He has to constantly demonstrate what a clever lawyer he is never mind what kind of parent. 

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