Tag Archive: creative parenting


My kids are evil.

Good. Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain. Little kids are a lot of things – sweet, cute, sticky (most of the time), small, lovable, smelly (again, most of the time). But compassionate, kind, gracious and selfless? Nope, nope, nope and… nope. And here in lies the rub. All too often we mistake their sweetness and smallness for goodness. Our children are wonderful gifts. But they are not born with great character – the kind that will ultimately lead to world changers and planet shakers. Goodness is not a birthright.

Julie Now, teaching our kids these kinds of qualities is easier said than done. I mean, just keeping them alive, fed, clothed and (relatively) clean is a quantum job! As a parent with three children under the age of five, I’m discovering that it’s better to integrate big life lessons than to separate them from our day-to-day lives. I’m hoping that as the days, weeks and years go by, my kids’ lives will be peppered with lots of useful moments that help them to become people of real character and to navigate their way through this oft upside-down world.

Here are some examples of character attributes we want our kids to have, and some ways we’re trying to instill them into the little buggers:

 Compassion – I remember the first time I tried to teach my eldest this virtue. We pulled up at a traffic light and saw a man begging for food. I rolled down my window, greeted him warmly and gave him an orange. As we drove away, I explained to Eli what we’d just done. He cried all the way home. Not out of sympathy for the poor man, but out of utter self pity that I had given away our food. Our orange! He wailed as if it was the last piece of fruit known to mankind. Another time, he asked me why a man was digging in the bins. I knelt down and told him gently about the huge disparity between rich and poor in our country, about how that man probably had kids at home, and that their home was nothing like ours, and how different their supper would look to ours. And that, despite how different our lives were, we were no better than that man. Again, Eli wept. And again, not out of compassion, but because somewhere in my story I had mentioned the word cupcake, and now he was sure he would die if he did not have a cupcake right this very minute. I’m not making this up. My kids are evil!

Courage – One of our kids is inherently skittish. We feel it’s our job to build into him the confidence he’ll need to face life well. So we don’t just let him get away with not trying new, scary things. We encourage him. We often say, ‘Just because you’re scared, doesn’t mean you can’t do it – you can!’ And he’s always so glad when he does eventually try and succeed at something new.

Robustness – This is such an undervalued attribute these days. When was the last time you heard someone say, “John is such a catch. He’s so robust!” And yet it’s one of the make-or-break qualities to get through life alive and happy! We try to teach our kids to suck it up when life sucks. We don’t say that of course, we say ‘It’s not the end of the world.’ And we say it sooo often that most of the time now, we just say, “It’s not the end of the?” and they finish the sentence themselves, as they take a deep breath and wipe their snotty faces clean with their sleeves. Children are charming like that.

So to sum up, I’m learning that good character isn’t going to fall from the sky onto my little ones. But every day is jam-packed with great opportunities to teach, inspire and drag them (kicking and screaming) toward it!

[Julie, among other things is someone with a gifted prophetic voice, a writer of note and an amazing woman role model for hundreds of younger women around her. She is the wife of Terran who is a friend of mine i have done a bunch of speaking with or near for many years and they keep their friends constantly amused with an assortment of things their kids say via the Facebook]

[To read the next inspiring piece on raising world changers, shared by my great friend Bruce Collins, click here]

So for the past few months my 7 year old son and I have been on a mission to infect the world with kindness.

It all started when after going through a tough time I got to a stage where I was feeling really grateful for all the good things in my life and I decided to do something nice for someone who was less fortunate than me.  It left me feeling so good that I decided this would be a great thing to share with my son. I suggested to him that we have one day a week where we do something nice for someone else be it a friend, family member or stranger.

He was immediately excited at the idea and asked why did it have to only be one day a week, could we not do it every day! So this is how our journey began.

One particular thing that we decided to do one day (and have continued to do generally once a week since then) is full a flask with boiling water and take some coffee, sugar, milk and cups together with some muffins we had baked and drive around our neighbourhood looking for homeless people we can share a warm drink with.

It is currently winter in Cape Town and there have been some really cold days! The first day we met Thomas, Louise and Charlotte. It was really nice to take the time to sit down and talk with these people. They were so surprised that we took the time to sit and talk to them, find out their name and take an interest in their lives. 

cayden[Sally used to be on a youth leaders committee with me a very long time ago and we ate a decent amount of Milo out of the tin together]

[If you are interested you can read more about what they have been doing on their blog – http://caydenskindness.wordpress.com or our facebook page – www.facebook.com/CaydensKindness

[For more inspirational stories on how to raise your children as world changers, take a look at Julie Williams story here]

being a parent of young children can be one of the toughest things in the world.

for some parents, more often than not it can be more a matter of survival than thriving and any hope of finding creative ways to raise your little people into being the world changers you hope that will be one day is often replaced by just trying to make it to the end of the day without killing any of them.

which is where this series comes in. i am not a parent myself, but i have heard some inspirational stories recently of some parents doing some things, which in some cases are very simple and in others took a more invested amount of involvement, which are likely to teach their children great lessons about living life well and ultimately will change the world. the idea is for me to collect a whole bunch of these ideas to hopefully inspire those who maybe don’t have the time or inclination to sit down and try and imagine them for themselves.

the hope is that you will find an idea, or ideas, that might work for you or that these stories might spark a different idea for you to try with your family.

let me say that i think being a parent is one of the most important ‘jobs’ in the world. it is so crucial and important and because there is no test you have to take to become one or manual to read that shows you how it will all play once you have one, must rank as one of the most scary things you can do in life, in terms  of worrying that you will get it wrong.

which is why learning from those who have walked the journey can be a powerful thing…

THE PARENT, THE CHILD AND THE PAID-FOR-RESTAURANT-BILL LOTTERY

I heard the story of when my bossman and his wife Meeghan went out for a meal with their young son, Justice. After the meal was done, they turned to Justice and said he could look around the restaurant and pick any family he wanted and they would pay for that family’s meal. So essentially they were the ones doing the good deed, but by inviting Justice to make the choice it suddenly started to feel like his good deed. So he picked a family and they went to the front and paid for their bill and the other family’s meal. Then the hardest part happened when they took Justice out without being able to watch the family receive the gift [a further lesson in terms of doing something good in secret].

‘There are a lot of times that people get to thank us or times we get to witness the impact of our sharing. This was a moment that it wasn’t necessary and perhaps more important for us not to need or receive.’ [Meeghan]

Simple, yet profound, because that is going to be a story that sticks with him. And because, more importantly, he was a part of it.

That is what this series is all about – as a parent, what creative life lesson have you been able to teach your child, or what practice do you do as a family that you feel will help them grow up to think differently and be different from the herd, in a world changing way?

Meet Sally and Cayden

Meet Julie, Eli and the gang

Meet Bruce, Gemma, Emily and Mikaela

Meet cousin David and the members of his clan

Meet Candi, Noah and Tyla

Meet Three Manns and a little Goat

Meet Nigel and Trish and their five kids who moved into a dangerous area in Hillbrow, South Africa

Meet Lara, Chris and their daughters who also moved into a dangerous area in Philadelphia, Americaland

Meet Lisa and her children Hailey, Noah and Isaiah who also moved into a dangerous area in San Francisco, Americaland

Meet Dalene Reyburn and read the letter she writes to her two boys to see them grow up as world changers

Meet Ro, Ad and Aaléyah and hear about the time they gave Jesus a shark!

A very worthwhile addition to this list is a reading of this letter from Magda Pecsenye to her sons about stopping rape [Excellent read for any parent!]

Look forward to sharing and hearing some more stories.

[If you have one you would like to share please email it to brettfish@hotmail.com – I won’t necessarily use them all, but it will be great to have a whole bunch to choose from]

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