I think one of the hardest parts of parenting is knowing when to be an advocate for your child and when to step back. Everyone secretly fears become a “pageant” or “backstage” Mom. We have had some experiences recently that helped me realize at least one time where I think you need to jump in and intervene.
Most children, probably several times during their childhood, decide they want to help someone or take on a cause. What is amazing to me is how many adults (even Christian ones) try to discourage them. I have seen children and teens literally crushed by the words of a supposedly well meaning adult who stops them under the guise of wanting something done “right” or because a child was “too young”.
Many of these children will take these words to heart and give up their efforts to serve others and perhaps even God, because in their minds they may never get it “right”. The reality is, I don’t find any scripture that talks about the “right” way to help widows, orphans and the poor. The main instruction is just to help them.
When your child has an idea of how to help someone else, my advice is to move heaven and earth to “make it so”. If other adults try and discourage them, stop them in their tracks. While the results of your child’s efforts may not look “perfect” the reality is their heart will shine through their efforts. The recipients will love the fact that someone loved them enough to care.
Think of all those pieces of your child’s artwork which were mainly squiggles. They were your favorites, not because they are museum worthy, but because of the love your child put into them. Those who receive the benefits of your child’s love will feel the same way.
I know you may worry your child has chosen a project entirely too complex for his age. I have found if you talk through his plan with him, you can find exactly how prepared he is for his project. You may be suprised at how mature and well thought out his plan is.
Be careful if you see some problems in his plans. Try not to discourage him. Instead as that stage of the efforts is about to begin, make a gentle suggestion of another way to execute his plans. Only you know your child well enough to know how to balance the value of learning from some mistakes and ensuring your child feels he has accomplished what he set out to do.
Ultimately, you want your child to serve out of her love for the Lord. You want her to serve because God asks us to help those less fortunate in our world. The goal is to encourage your child so when he has a godly idea, he knows that with God’s help, he can “make it so.”