We help others because they need our help. We want to make them feel better and
to help them thrive and survive. Thatís the most common approach to helping
others -- and a view that I shared until recently.
My perspective on giving got a
complete turnaround a few weeks ago. I share it with you so that you can discuss
it with your children.
I was on vacation and went with a
cousin to visit her mother in a nursing home. After seeing the amount of care
that she had been giving my aunt, and hearing how she, as the only one of her
siblings living in the same city, was taking on and doing such an admirable job,
I felt it important to tell her how I appreciated what she was doing for her
Her response surprised me. She told
me that she was doing it for herself. "I wouldnít be able to live with
myself if I didnít do this."
And thatís the new view that I got
about helping people: some of us do it because we want the other person to
benefit, whereas some of us do it because we like the way it feels for
Either way, the other person has the
advantage of our good intentions, kind words, and helpful deeds. How much does
it matter that the motivation behind our actions are different? In either event,
the results are the same.
What are the kind acts that we ask
our children to perform? Share their toys? Help around the house? Offer peer
tutoring to a classmate who needs help?
No matter what the deed, we recognize
that some children will help others because the other needs assistance; itís an
action that makes the other feel better. Other children will be more motivated
because of how it makes them feel to give of themselves.
In either event, the end product is
the same: we are doing what we can to help another. We get our kids to think
about something other than their hair, their clothes, and their own requests.
And that has only positive results.