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The Day My 3yo Said A Homeless Man Looked Disgusting

I love my kid. She’s awesome. I love talking about stuff with her and seeing how she feels or what she thinks about it. It’s always interesting to hear her take on stuff.  

Recently, we were driving and came up to a stop light. There was a homeless man asking for money. My daughter saw him and asked what he was doing standing next to the street. I explained he didn’t have any money and was asking people to share some to help him out. Her reply, “He looks disgusting.”

At that moment, I had to decide how I was going to handle this. I wasn’t planning on giving him any money at first. But after hearing my daughter make a comment like that, it bothered me enough I had to take this opportunity to teach a lesson.

I had the green light and I had to go. So I started to turn left but instead made a U-turn.  I drove down and made another U-turn so I could once again pull up next to the man. I rolled my window down and I gave him money. I wanted my daughter to see me be kind to others.

As he thanked me and I drove away, I asked her why she said he was disgusting. She said because he looked dirty. I tried to explain that she would look dirty too if she didn’t have a home to live in. That it’s important to not jump to a decision about someone before knowing what’s going on with them.  

We’re not a religious family. But I want to raise my children to be compassionate. To be kind to others. So I was really hoping this example was going to stick with her.

As we continued to drive home. I didn’t say anything else in hopes that the few sentences I did say would replay in her head.

I told my husband about what happened. It had bothered me but I know her comment came from innocence. She’s three afterall. I also knew there would be other opportunities in the future. But still, it’s not a good feeling to hear your child being unkind.

A week or so went by. We were in my truck again and came to an intersection with another man and a dog who was asking for money. It was raining and my daughter noticed him. I waited to see what she may say.  

Finally, she asked “Mommy, why is that man standing in the rain?” So I told her once again “He’s asking people for money because he may be hungry or not have a home.” She thought for a moment and said “I want to go home and get my piggy bank and give it to him.”

Parenting can be so hard. There’s so many times that a situation comes up that I know she can’t fully understand yet. But I have to find a way to explain it to her. She’s smart so she gets more than I give her credit for. That day was a big win for me. I saw her sweet and compassionate side that she chose to display all on her own and in her own way.

Down the road, I’ll take her to volunteer with me so she sees the need to be kind to others. I hope it resonates with her and she continues down that path. We can all afford to be a little more kind to one another. So I want to start the lesson young with my children. She showed me that even though she’s little, she already has a big heart.

- Dara
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