Kids can do Neighborly Deeds

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

A neighbor's child had a severe reaction to the anesthesia given her during a routine operation to put tubes in her ears. The two year old sustained severe brain damage and it took a great deal of time to feed her and put her through her physiotherapy exercises. I was very pleased when my daughter, in her mid-teens, volunteered to feed and exercise the girl, three times a week, thus freeing this mother to take care of her other children.

Another neighbor gave birth to a child with a severe genetic disease called Angelman Syndrome. As he grew older, his care became more and more wearing on my friend, especially in summer, when her son's school went on vacation. I first noticed how tired my friend looked when I was at the local playground with my little boys. I asked her if it was possible that my seventeen year old could give her a hand in the afternoons, so she could nap or spend time with her other children.

Maybe this time?

The mother told a sad tale of her history with volunteers. Even when a good volunteer was found, they never seemed to last long in that role. Still, I pressed, maybe this time things will work out well. At least let me talk to him, I urged her.

It was a perfect fit.

It was a perfect fit. My son fast learned to love his charge, and spent time with him, whenever he was able. Even when the summer ended, our neighbors found my son a perfect solution for their occasional need for a babysitter, for instance, when they had to attend their other children's parent teacher conferences. My son became familiar with the disabled child's routine and could be depended upon.

Another neighbor has a 15 year old mentally retarded son. The boy was incontinent. She wanted to attend a wedding and asked my 15 year old daughter to baby-sit her son. In this case, I had to intervene and explain to the mother that my daughter's nature was such that she was not the right one to care for her son. I knew that she would find it difficult to confront the boy's incontinence and nudity. This daughter loves to baby-sit for older children and teaches them all kinds of arts and crafts. If she senses a mother is on a budget, she will tell her that there is no charge for her services.

It's important to teach kids to help others and do neighborly deeds. When doing so, you need to make sure that you match each good deed to a particular child's personality and ability.