I want our kids to care about others. I want them to be selfless enough to put others first, brave enough to know that they can do it even when it is hard, kind enough to enjoy giving others a chance, and honest enough to do it even when I’m not around to remind them.
I want them to look for ways to help others, as my parents do, my husband’s parents do, and we do. Mickey and I were lucky enough to have learned through our parents’ examples to help others, and now we have the gift of teaching our children these same lessons.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and it’s a great time to discuss how we, as parents, can teach our children to care about others – especially their peers—and give back. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS), an organization that provides support to families making their way through the daunting world of childhood cancer and survivorship.
About a year ago, my husband’s friend found out that his very young daughter had cancer. She was too young to have to go through something like this. She was adorable and the light of their lives.
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Cancer impacts so many families, with an estimated 15,270 children diagnosed each year. Every three minutes, a family hears – “your child has cancer.”
Thankfully, our family friend’s daughter survived and is doing great.
But it doesn’t always work out that way.
My brother’s friend in high school lost her battle. We watched her family battle cancer with their daughter for many years when we were young. It was a time of learning for us, as children. We learned what cancer looked like in a child and we learned how much the help of others truly makes an impact.
During the hard times, friends and family rallied around both of these families, supporting them through the entire thing. Money was raised to help them manage the unexpected costs associated with fighting the disease. The last thing that a worried parent wants is an added worry about finances.
Just knowing that the average cost to treat a child with cancer is $833,000 was enough to make everyone jump into action. That doesn’t even include the travel expenses many families incur to get their children to the best treatment possible. Whether it’s plane tickets, mileage assistance or a place to stay when treatment is far from home, these expenses can add up and put an additional burden on families facing the unimaginable.
This is where we can help. By signing up to be an NCCS Road Warrior monthly donor, we can get more children on the road to survival—wherever that may be. Road Warriors help make the financial journey of childhood cancer more manageable. In the last year, the NCCS funded more than 5,000,000 miles to help families get their children to the best treatment possible.
There are so many challenges families face when their child is diagnosed with cancer. Can you imagine if you knew that you could give your child a better fighting chance but the unexpected costs of travel and lodging—costs not covered by insurance—were holding you back? The best treatment in the world doesn’t matter if a child can’t get there!
There are ways you can help.
When I was younger, my mom volunteered with cancer-fighting organizations and every year, I volunteered with her. We helped behind the scenes: raising money, organizing events, and gathering materials. Every September, she helped to organize a huge event to raise money to fight childhood cancer, and I helped her as much as I could.
As a mother myself, I want my children to know that they always have the ability to do more. They can always make a difference.
Here are five ways that we can teach our children to care about others and give back:
1. TEACH THROUGH EXAMPLE
When you are kind to your children, they are kind to others. Children model what they see. Be kind to them and they will be kind to others. Talk to them. Sing to them. Hold them. Snuggle with them… tell them nice things and give them opportunities to say nice things to you, too.At dinner, let each child say two nice things about everyone at the table. Our kids smile so big when someone says something nice to them. This will encourage them to say nice things to others too.
2. DONATE AND ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO DONATE, TOO.
Our kids have started earning chore money, for doing extra chores (outside of normal responsibilities) with the plan that they will donate some of the money that they have earned to support others in need.
They also have sales outside (bracelets, cookies, etc.) with the intention of donating some of that earned money. We do this in an effort to show them that if they have the means, they should help.
Consider making that donation to The National Children’s Cancer Society and signing up to be an NCCS Road Warrior at www.thenccs.org/warrior. These donors help families get where they need to be physically, financially and emotionally. They help to give families hope and get their children on the road to survival. And nothing should stop a child from getting to lifesaving cancer treatment.
While they might not be able to do as much as they want while they are young, you can find ways for children to volunteer. Talk about why it’s important to you, show them photos of you volunteering and share your experience with the entire family.
4. EMPHASIZE THE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP.
Challenge your children to get to know others and ask questions. Help them learn about their friends’ backgrounds and experiences and show them the importance of being there for a peer.
According to a whitepaper from the NCCS, over 66% of teens who have battled cancer reported that the most important thing their friends did while they were undergoing treatment was visit and just “hang out” with them.
5. BE “ALL THERE” WITH YOUR FAMILY.
Read books that they love, go on the swing set with them, bake their favorite cookies, leave them a note on their pillow that they will find when they get into bed, and do all of these things because you know that it makes someone else happy.
Soon you will see them doing things like this for one another. You have to be present in mind, spirit, and heart… no matter what.
Thank you to The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) for everything that they do. This month, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I am grateful to have the chance to continue to help. I am grateful to have moments to teach my children to help.
The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS)
The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a not-for-profit organization providing support to families making their way through the daunting world of childhood cancer and survivorship. With over 30 years of experience serving more than 43,000 children, the NCCS is able to take a “no matter what” approach to help families stay strong, stay positive and stay together. The NCCS has been recognized as a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and earned a GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency. For more information call 314-241-1600, visit theNCCS.org, or on Facebook and Twitter.