One of my favorite jobs is to spend time on the air with my friends at KTIS Radio. My good friend Keith Stevens of the KTIS afternoon show did a segment while I was on with him called “kind kids,” where we took a minute to acknowledge good hearted kids who go out of their way to do kind things for others.
We took phone calls from listeners who wanted to share with pride their kids and how they are doing things like befriending kids at school who seem lonely, and others who are starting charitable organizations to help kids who go without school lunches. During our time listening and cheering on other parents for supporting their kind kids, I had the chance to reflect on my own amazing 4 children (two of which are no longer “kids” but amazing nonetheless).
I was reminded of how much my 12, 14 and 21 year old help their 20 year old brother Ben who has a diagnosis of Autism. When you are a family with an individual with special needs - and special gifts, your kids have endless opportunities to display kindness and help. They grow up with a different perspective than most. They tend to be a bit more flexible. They are more understanding of others with special needs and exhibit acts of compassion because they have more opportunity too throughout life at home and out and about in the community with a sibling who needs a bit of extra assistance.
Last week my heart melted as I watched my 12 year old daughter help her brother bake chocolate chip cookies. He was really excited about the prospect of having cookies and I thought it would be fun to teach him how to make them himself (with appropriate measures of help). My daughter Savannah stepped in and I marveled at how sweet and gentle she was in her instruction.
I see as my kids get older how incredibly beneficial it has been for them to have come alongside their brother to teach him different things or to guide him through the daily components of life. I know how much we have all been blessed by Ben’s sensitivity, his intelligence, his sweet spirit and his sense of humor. We’ve learned more than I have room to write about from Benjamin. There have been challenges, of course. But, as my children grow and mature, I can see now all the incredible qualities they exhibit the older they get and the more we spend time with other families and with other kids. Compassion, empathy, kindness and patience are not necessarily qualities that come naturally to everyone. But these qualities certainly can be taught, practiced and encouraged in our own kids and giving kids the chance to prove how kind they can be will be an exercise in humanity and care that I believe we will all benefit from. I’m proud of my “kind kids!”