Make a Difference In The Life of A Child Month
In the busyness of taking care of kids, I know that I can often lose sight of truly making a difference. I mean, I hope I am making a difference to the seven kids I parent, but I think, in all honesty, I can lose focus on being purposeful and intentional. It can also be a tendency to feel spread so thin with our own kids that our reach beyond, to other children, can become stale or ineffective. This is Make a Difference In The Life of A Child Month. So I thought I might pause and spend some time refocusing my own efforts and maybe encouraging you in the process to think beyond the usual and really look for ways to make a difference in the life of a child, not only this month but as a habit.
When I think back on my own childhood, I can think of some people who had a pretty special impact on my life. These were people who gave to me, possibly in ways they never even realized, but truly made a difference.
I had a great home life. I mean my parents loved me and gave me lots of attention. But that didn’t mean I didn’t need other people in my life that poured into me and helped me feel special or worthwhile.
One such person was Miss Faye. She will forever hold a special place in my heart. I think I was probably about six or seven years old when she and my mom became friends. Later on, she would be the one who would teach me how to play the accordion and piano, lead our preschool/child development class, be our youth group leader, our choir director, and an impacting example of mothering many children.
Miss Faye was a special soul. She had been abandoned and lived in an orphanage as a child. She had her hands full with raising five children of her own. But she always had time to give and serve. Her life had not been easy, and she never lived in a land of abundance. And to be in her presence, you’d always feel like she lived a life of abundant joy, peace, and patience. She had the kindest, sweetest, most encouraging Southern voice.
She was one of those unique people that you feel her love and acceptance when you need it most. Even in my most awkward adolescent years, she had an unbelievable way of making me feel okay and loved. In fact, I think her loves always felt quite near that of a second mom!
Her encouraging words continued support through life’s challenges, and incredible prayer support will forever be a gift. Even to this day, I will find myself wondering what Miss Faye might say. And then, I can just imagine her sweet response.
As I write this, I feel prompted in giving and serve more. I want to have that effect on other’s lives. I want to make a lasting and impacting difference.
Can you think of a person who made a difference in your life? What did they contribute to your life that made a difference?
How can we go about making a difference? What can we do to get out of the present habit of complacency and truly be purposeful in making a difference? I’d like to suggest a few ideas!
Don’t Overlook the Simple and Easy
Some of the things we contribute might be simple:
- Material goods
- Teaching a skill
- Small gift
Truly these things don’t require a lot of us. They don’t take great planning. And they don’t take a big time commitment. Yet these things can easily fall by the wayside if we aren’t being purposeful. Perhaps you are getting rid of something still in good condition and you think of a child that would love to have it or could use it. Maybe your child brings a friend around that just needs the simple kindness of a shoe tied or a warm cookie. Maybe that sad looking child in line ahead of you just needs a simple smile. It can be contagious!
Help Fill A Gap
One of the ways we can help make a difference is by helping to fill an obvious gap in a child’s life. Perhaps they don’t have a steady or loving home life. Maybe they simply don’t have extended family around or just lack the presence of an “aunt” or “uncle” to show up and be supportive. They may possibly be a child with no siblings to interact with. They might even be a child whose parents aren’t available. These gaps can vary. These gaps may be long term or short term. But helping to fill these more obvious times of need can be important.
These children might benefit from the gift of your presence. Being there for them, showing up for them, and giving of your time can be an unforgettable contribution in the life of a child. Being that face in “their crowd” to cheer them on and show you care is a gift.
You might be thinking something like…I don’t know if I have time for that! I can hardly offer my own children the level of care and support that they deserve. I don’t know if I can spread myself any thinner. Don’t worry! This is not the only way to make a difference, just one of the more obvious ones.
Speak Words of Encouragement
Now if you are feeling that your time and resources are limited. This one comes easy and free! Don’t ever underestimate the value of your words. You can speak encouragement just about anywhere you go. You might say something to the child ahead of you in the grocery line. You might offer a kind word to the little girl helping others on the playground. You might observe that little guy feeling sad or on the verge of a meltdown and have just the words that turn his day around.
You have probably had the experience of randomly speaking to a child and seeing their little face light up. There is nothing that compares!
“I just saw you share your swing with that other child. That was really kind!” or “Those look like some pretty cool shoes you are wearing!” or “You were really brave going down that slide!”
Look for those ways you might say a few words that cause a smile, lift a frown, turn a day around. I can tell you from experience it can change the course of a parent’s day as well to hear their child be noticed or encouraged.
I was recently saddened when sitting with an adolescent counseling client that feels pretty convinced her parents wish she had never been born. She was told as much and grew to believe it. Now as a teen, she struggles to feel that life would be better without her. Imagine what a few well-placed words of encouragement would mean to a child hearing such words in her own home. No kid should ever fill this sentence “The thing I really wish is that ________________…” with the statement, “That I had never been born.” It broke my heart.
Provide Monetary Gifts
For some, time is limited, but you realize that you do have financial means to help make a difference in the life of a child. That is important too. There truly is something for everyone to contribute. So if you doubt your abilities or time commitment, this might be an avenue that appeals to you. There are many ways you might contribute. You could give to something like Make-a-Wish foundation, Compassion International, or a mission organization within your community or church.
I know our church offers the opportunity to sponsor a child in an African orphanage that our church founded. For a little over $200, you can provide a child’s clothing, food, and school for a year. Our church makes frequent trips to the area and oversees the many aspects of this project.
I know many people close to me sponsor a child through Compassion International. They can write letters and send their support to help meet their monthly needs as well. These children may keep contact in return as they grow.
The opportunities in this area are endless. You might like to get online and google to discover the many ways your money might help make the difference in the life of a child. Just make sure you are going through a reputable organization.
Consider Bigger Commitments
Not everyone feels like their time and resources are limited or strained. Perhaps you have been interested in foster care or adoption. These might be avenues in which you can commit both with time and care to make a difference in a child’s life. These are undoubtedly big ways to commit making a difference. Make sure you prepare yourself well for the challenges involved. It is not an easy road, and maybe not one that everyone is cut out to take. But I hold great respect for those who do.
There are also states that utilize the court-appointed special advocates for kids in custody or care disputes. You might find that this is a way you can give to children involved in the system, even if you are not able to take them into your own home.
Think Outside the Box
Money and time are the two things that can be hard to find or come up with if you are already feeling the strain in your own life. But that doesn’t exclude you from making a difference. You can think outside the box. Maybe you have a burning passion for a special need or cause. You might be just the person to help advocate for a cause or help raise awareness for something children are experiencing. These passions or burdens in our heart can help fuel our motivation and drive to do something to make a difference.
What if you were to help spread awareness of a condition others may not know much about. Perhaps something like our littles encountered when diagnosed with craniosynostosis. Even the pediatricians knew very little about the condition and missed his diagnosis. And in the world of social media, it might be something as simple as sharing a post and making some comments in support of something.
Maybe you can’t do a lot financially, but you know others who can? Are you possibly in a place to help fundraise or find donors for projects that benefit children? It may be something for ill children, something community based, something that helps nurture or protect children. Again, the opportunities are endless!
Volunteering might be one such opportunity for you to give in small ways with manageable commitment. You might volunteer as a Sunday school teacher or classroom helper. In these ways, you can have an impact on a classroom of children!
Think through your options, talents, skills, and passions. Pray about how you might be useful in making a difference. Most importantly, take action! It is easy to hear something about making a difference in a child’s life and then go on your merry way. Stop today. Pause. Think of how you can be purposeful and impacting.The strange and hidden blessing of all this is that when you attempt to make a difference in someone else’s life, it will make a difference in your own life as well. Click To Tweet
Need some inspiration to do some small acts of kindness?
Consider either one of the Kindness resources for some inspiration! One of these small ideas might just springboard some other ideas! And please, let me know in the comments about some of your great ideas or things you are doing to make a difference!
Make sure you visit your subscriber-only resource page to download pdf versions these resources:
50 Random Acts of Kindness
Words Every Child Needs To Hear
Connecting to Boys
Connecting to Girls
If you aren’t already subscribed to receive the free parenting resources I offer with each blog, signing up is easy. Just follow this link for more information! Curious about some of the information that was touched on earlier in this article? There’s more to the story, go back and click the links to read more!
Let’s Do This!!