Bravery in the Family 16

There are three people I love dearly who have all shown unbelievable bravery in their lives. The first one is my dad who fought in WWII and Korea, but that is not what made him brave to me. The other two are my own children.

The first time I personally witnessed bravery was when I was a little girl. I awoke to a loud banging noise that would not stop, and then I heard my parents’ voices. My mom was begging my dad not to go outside. I got out of bed to see what was going on. Mom was crying and Dad was saying, “Lock the door behind me and call the police,” as he stepped out the door closing it firmly behind him.

Mom locked the door and opened her arms wide as I ran to her. I hugged my mom as she dialed the phone and I heard Dad yell through the door to Mom, “Tell them someone has been badly beaten and is bleeding.” Next I heard my dad telling someone on the other side of the door, “I can’t let you into my house because I have young children, but my wife is calling the police to get help, and I will stay here with you until they come. Whoever did this seems to have left. I saw a car speed away when I opened the door.”

Later I asked my dad why he risked his own life by opening the door. He replied, “Sue, if I were injured wouldn’t you want someone to help me? A long time ago a friend helped me and the only repayment he would accept was a promise that I would help someone else.”

Over the years I observed my dad helping others including repairing their cars when they came off our exit on the freeway only to learn that the nearest station was another eight miles away. He never accepted payment for doing this even when he had to drive somewhere to get auto parts. He always told them the same thing, “Just help someone else one day.” My dad did this his whole life and what better way to teach your children kindness than by being kind yourself. How I wish everyone in this world were like this!

I do not know if I have set as good of an example for my children, but I am trying and I think for the most part I am doing a good job of raising them. I will tell you a little about them and you can decide.

My daughter gave me permission to write Delightfully Different to help others as long I made it a work of fiction. I think this is very brave because I know how hard it was for her.

My son who observed everything that happened to his sister refused to be mean to another boy at school when a group of boys he has known since kindergarten started being mean to this boy. The boy told them my son is his friend and when the “bullies” asked my son if this is true, he replied, “Yes.” Some of these boys have picked on him as a result, but my son has kept his integrity which I think is way more important than remaining friends with mean kids.

Let me know what you think. Do you teach kindness to your children despite what other parents do?

Addendum: Much has changed since I originally posted this. My daughter left the school of her dreams due to their failures, but not before she made the brave decision to tell the high school dean her decision herself. She had the dean in tears, but this did not change the outcome.

That dean has since left the school and the former headmaster has too. We tried to get an apology for my daughter that we want placed in her permanent record to explain that the failures were not hers. The new headmaster refused.

In fact, after agreeing to meet with me, he tried to throw me out of his office ten minutes into our conversation because I showed him a happy smiling self-portrait my daughter drew when she first entered kindergarten before the bullying almost destroyed her. I still managed to converse with him for fifty minutes, but I did not see any indication that he was empathetic.

He did not even offer me a tissue when my eyes were clearly tearing and I had to dig into my purse to find one. He did promise to read everything I left with him including a school newspaper where the bullies called my daughter a reject. (No they did not mention her name, but the whole grade new who was interviewed and she was the only one who had been excluded from that group. The paper went to every child from kindergarten through twelfth grade and it was on-line until I pointed it out to school the year we finally left them.

My daughter blogged her heart out and became #15 on Babble.com’s top autism blogs. She has since stopped blogging and worked hard to overcome the long-term effects of bullying. She wants to escape this island environment where she cannot go anywhere without running into someone who knows her. She wants to start fresh.

You can help her accomplish this goal by sharing our story and purchasing my novel. Right now her dream college is out of our budget. BTW: We live on an island in the middle of the Pacific, so the only way she can go away is to pay out-of-state tuition.

16 comments

  1. What a wonderful tribute to you dad. Kids learn by watching their parents..so I try and instill courtesy, kindness and good manners by providing a good example.

  2. Hi, Sue.

    That was a wonderful post. It sounds like your dad set a fine example for all of us and has left a proud legacy in his children and grandchildren. Thank you for sharing such an inspirational message.

    Diane

  3. You have a brave family!
    I am ashamed to admit that I let one incident to pass me by. It could have been an incident to be brave and help someone. I still think about that time, and thought over and over, how I could have acted differently.

    • Charlotte,
      Life is about learning from our mistakes not beating ourselves up about them. Believe me I am not perfect as much as I try to be. The thing is we have to forgive ourselves when we aren’t and just keep trying to be the best we can be and teach our children to do the same.
      Aloha,
      Sue

  4. This is a very inspiring post and brought tears to my eyes as I read it. I’m so grateful for people that choose to be different and teach that to others.
    My dad also was someone who inspired others to be kind and think of others and I have tried to pass that on to my children and grandchildren

  5. That was a great post Sue :)

    I think your Dad sounds like a remarkable man! And your children have obviously been taught well. You should be proud!

    In our family, I’m doing my best to teach my children about helping others and only time will tell how much of that they’ve taken on board!

  6. Hi Sue – thanks for a beautiful post. I love the mind-set of your father and I believe that his appraoch to life and helping others was a very admirable one.

    I sincerely believe in showing other people kindness too for I strive to treat others as I would want to be treated. In some ways that might sound like a cliche, but for me, it’s a true cliche. To me, reaching out to others is like breathing – it comes naturally. And, yes, it lifts my soul. I’m not saying that I help people all the time in great and magnificant ways, but I definately think the small things (like smiing at straners) really help.

    I love that you’re teaching your children by example. They are like sponges so, regardless of what you say, they will learn from what you do…and I can well imagine that you are a great mother to them :D

    Aloha (I am guessing that is both hello and goodbye?)
    Chloe xx

    • Chloe,
      Aloha can mean many things actually, but yes, hello and goodbye are two of them. I talked about some of the different things aloha means in a previous blog: Bullying in the Aloha State | dswalkerauthor if you are curious. A friend of ours just wrote a program for the iPhone called Pidgin 101 with many of the words used in Hawaii. It is kind of fun. I wish I had it when I first moved here. Many of the words used in Hawaii are of Hawaiian origin, but others are a mixture of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, etc. We truly are a multicultural state. The nice thing is we also have wonderful foods from the different cultures.

      Mahalo (means thank you) again for your kind comments. I hope one day our world will be a place where everyone shows kindness to others. Small acts of kindness are equally important.
      Aloha,
      Sue

        • Chloe,
          I’ve been in Hawaii for almost 17 years now. I grew up in Georgia, but I was living in Colorado, my adopted home state when I met my husband. I lived there for 12 years.

  7. This is a beautiful post. I love that your dad was so willing to help others, even risking his own safety and convenience to do so. And both of your kids are definitely showing great kindness, which I’m certain they learned from you!

    This has become a topic in our household more frequently of late, and one I need to remind myself of as well, since it is so easy to get wrapped up in my own little world sometimes.

    • Thank you for such kind words! I think it is easy to get wrapped up in our own lives today and having children on the spectrum can sometimes make it harder to find the time and energy to reach out to others. However, even baby steps in that direction can make such an impact on kids.

      I can’t take all of the credit for how wonderful my children are though. My daughter’s Girl Scout Troop also helped her learn to help others and she had some wonderful teachers along the way too. This year she is in the Red Cross Club which is another great organization.

      My son’s elementary school was also great at getting the kids to help others. From third grade, they helped get the younger children out of their cars in the morning. They participated in Operation Christmas Child when he was in first and second grade. They sent a note home asking parents to have them do small chores around the house to earn money to buy the items they packed in the shoe boxes. They’ve done so many other projects too. I think I said before how much I love his school! He is still as the same school, but in a different area for middle school, but the elementary school helped to instill values that I wish every school taught.
      Aloha,
      Sue

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