In our self-centered society, how do you teach a child to be compassionate and serve others? Dr. Leman gives an answer that goes beyond the bounds of parenting.
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Dr. Leman: A five and three are certainly capable of mustering up the custer so to speak, and giving you an idea about being kind to others. Now, let me ask you a question. What could you do today that’s kind to someone else? What’s something you could do today that other people would really be pleased with?
Doug: So can we teach our children compassion and to serve others and care about others? That’s the question that is proposed to Dr. Leman then he answers, can you teach it to them to be compassionate?
Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us. If this is your first time with us, we want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or child, please go seek a local professional for help. On this episode, we get to do one of my favorite things, which is take one of your questions from you and answer it. This one’s from Autumn, and as I already said, she’s asking, can I teach my kids to be compassionate? Let’s hear what Dr. Leman has to say.
Autumn: Hi Dr. Leman. My name is Autumn Paterson and I’m a mom of three boys, five, three and one. And I’ve been listening to your podcasts and just taking everything in that you say and love it. I actually have two of your books on the way from Amazon right now. And I’ve heard you talk a lot about teaching your kids how to give and how to be compassionate and how to be caring towards others. And so, I was wondering what are some practical ways that you can encourage that on a day to day basis to get them to see what that looks like, to serve others, to put others before themselves?
Dr. Leman: Oh listen, I love the question. It’s just the little things. With five, three and one, oh my goodness, you’re a busy lady. But I bet you find yourself in the car a lot. Now, when you have them in the car, you have the enemy trapped. Okay? You have the audience right there. And it’s a beautiful time to say, you know, I was trying to think of something that I could do today that would be kind for someone else. Could you guys help me? I’d love to know what you think.
Dr. Leman: Now, one year old is probably not going to chime in, but five and three year old are certainly capable of mustering up the custer so to speak, and giving you an idea about being kind to others, and at which point you say, thank you. You know, and that is so thoughtful of you to share that with me. Honey, I love it when you share things like that. Now, let me ask you a question. Oh, here’s a question. What could you do today that’s kind to someone else? What’s something you could do today that other people would really be pleased with? What’s a gift that you could make to give to grandma? Those kinds of things.
Dr. Leman: It’s not cookie cutter, it’s natural. It’s when you’re in the car, the car is a great place to talk to kids, usually put a radio on, you’ve just stopped all communication. But it’s a great time. Kids can count dogs or animals or different colored cars. I mean, there’s games you can play, interactive games that just get those young minds moving. But you can also use those as wonderful commercial announcements about kindness and thoughtfulness and telling the truth and wonderful things we want to be able to teach kids.
Andrea: What if they give you some ideas and they’re not realistic? Do you have to do all these things? Oh, let’s make a meal for so and so.
Dr. Leman: Wouldn’t it be nice to buy an airplane for your daddy? Such a good idea. Oh my goodness, can you imagine daddy landing and the backyard? Oh, I wonder what that would be like. Well money, no, I think he would run into the fence. He would run over your tomatoes or, I mean the kids will carry on that conversation. But that’s great conversation. And that’s what I’ve always said about kids, grant in fantasy what you can’t in reality. Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that be, you know what, getting your brother a little pony, what a great idea. Now, I’m wondering, would you be able to ride on your brother’s pony since his brother? Yeah, he says. Yeah, a lot. The kids are on it. You can see the wheels turning. Let’s buy my brother a little pony so I-
Doug: So nobody, no one’s going to disagree with this idea that we should serve others and be compassionate, right? No one’s going to say, oh, we shouldn’t teach our children that. But when it comes down to it, what stops us from really like teaching our kids to really be compassionate and serve others?
Dr. Leman: Well, again, parents, listen, this is what you have to understand. Your kids are watching you and they’re taking emotional notes, spiritual notes on how you live your life. Behavioral notes. They know you’re a kind mommy. That’s why a little boy will say to his mommy at age six, mommy, I’m going to marry you. Why would a kid say that? Because he’s fallen in love with his mother who’s this wonderful, caring, giving person. And as a parent, let’s face it, we’re givers. I bought my wife and apron once, I think it was orange and have black stripes on it and it said, too poop to whoop. I was just sort of a little joke. But you know, when you’ve got three little kids, which we had at the time, you have to understand that mommy is like a salmon who’s run nine miles up a stream. They’re exhausted. But they’re exhausted because they live a life of giving and serving.
Dr. Leman: And that’s why it’s so nice when kids do things for you. Parents, how many times have you just loved those little gifts a kid make for you? What is it about it? Is it the gift itself or the fact the kid really want to make you something? That’s what makes relationships and families special.
Doug: In our culture, we’re so fast. Like haven’t even said anything, like how would I carve out time to teach my kids to be compassionate and serve others? How in the world do you do that?
Dr. Leman: You don’t carve out the time. You just live your life.
Doug: So you’re saying if I’m compassionate in serving others, my kids are going to notice that.
Dr. Leman: Absolutely. But I think the dialogue that we talked about is, what thoughtful thing could we, teach kids about what does thoughtful mean, what does it mean? Does it mean you open the door for someone? Does it mean can I help you? Does it mean you pick up a package that someone dropped for them? I mean, you get kids thinking along those lines. Those are all habits of the heart you want to be teaching your kids.
Andrea: So those kinds of habits, it could be you’re talking in the car and it could be, let’s open the door for somebody when we walk into the store today. It doesn’t have to be, let’s go shopping and make a gift basket and drive it over to Mrs. Smith. It doesn’t have to be a big thing.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. You know, I was dropping off some cleaning their day. Mrs. [Uppington 00:06:54] was in the car. And I came around a corner and there was a lady who had a basket full of groceries who was probably pretty close to 80 years old I would guess. She had a cart that was malfunctioning for lack of a better term. I think one of the wheels was just stuck and didn’t move. And the poor thing, she was trying to push it. And so, I did three giant steps and I said, “Let me help you with those.” She just said, “Well thank you.” And she followed me. I said, “You’re parked down here?” And she pointed out her car, I said, “Where would you like these?” And she said, oh, “Do you want them in the backseat or put in the trunk?” And she said, “Could you put him in the front seat?” I said, “Sure.” So I go around to the other side of the car and put our groceries in and took her cart and she said, “Oh, thank you young man so much.” That’s how old she was, she called me young man.
Dr. Leman: You just do things in a natural way. Now, if someone was watching that from the parking lot and they recognized me, what would they think? What would they say? What would they tell their kid? What would they tell her husband that day? Hey, I saw something interesting today. What did you see? You know that Leman guy [inaudible 00:08:05], he saw a situation where a lady was really struggling with her cart, and God bless him, he sort of hopped in there and sort of took over and too the cart to the car and put her groceries away. People are always watching. Look for an opportunity to help other people.
Dr. Leman: We always call it, when I’m in traffic and we’re trying to get out and the heavies traffic, I always said, I’m looking for a Christian. That’s how I used to call it. But I taught the kids early. On the other hand, when the kids were little, we’d come upon an accident scene that was really the kind Yolanda look at, I would just always shake my head and say drugs. And I remember my kids when they would come up across an accident, they would say to me, dad, do you think it was a druggie? And so, I negatively imprinted drugs in my kid’s mind from the time they were a little. They’re adults now, they’ve all owed up. Not one of them ever did drugs. Five kids. That’s pretty good.
Doug: So if I’m 100% honest with you, I really don’t have time and I have too many other things on my mind to think about being compassionate and serve others. That what I’d really like to do is can we just go do the Thanksgiving meal at the Union Gospel Mission and be done with it?
Dr. Leman: Yeah, that’s fine. You can do that.
Andrea: What will the impact to be?
Dr. Leman: My only question back is at what price?
Andrea: What would you explain the price to be?
Dr. Leman: The relationship that you don’t have with your children? I think if you want closeness in your family, there has to be an authenticity that you care about other people.
Doug: Say that again.
Dr. Leman: I think if you really want closeness with your children, your own children, you have to display an authenticity in your life about you loving other people or the kids grow distant. This past weekend where I spoke, it broke my heart. This lady said, my daughter has nothing to do with me. She won’t let me see the grandchildren. for the life of me, I don’t know what I’ve done or whatever. We tried to give her everything she ever wanted. I mean, it came right out of her mouth. I don’t want to step on her any further and say lady, I know one of the problems is you gave her everything she ever wanted. She was so self-centered and now she’s going living her life and she doesn’t need her mother, what does she need her for. She was just a free ticket. And now that I’m making good bucks and my husband does well, what do I need you for? So you invest in relationships. It pays off.
Doug: For our podcast listeners, from Baker Bucks to you, again, you get to hear about a great ebook special from March 5 to 11 of 2019. You can get the book Under the Sheets for a $1.99. I don’t think I need to explain to you what that book is for, but I do know that getting your marriage strong helps parenting in unbelievable ways. So you can get that book for a $1.99. Now, to straight talk with Doctor Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: You don’t know who you are parent number one. You haven’t figured out your role in this thing. Let me ask you this, parent. Do you want to be like every other parent in the world? Just answer the question. All right, now, let’s turn it the other way. Do you want your kid to be like every other kid in the world? If you do, I’m not even sure I feel sorry for you. I feel sad for you I guess because that’s a pathetic situation if that’s where you are. Do you know who you are, do you know what you believe in? What are the important things in life? How did you get to where you are today in life? Who believed in you? What are the values that you hold closest to you? This is part of figuring out life, folks.
Dr. Leman: How you see yourself in a relationship to other people. Well, how do your kids see themselves in the confines of your family? Are you the slave dogs parents, you do all the work or do they carry some of the load? Do the kids have a say in your family or are you the king and queen of the family? Well, good luck, over-authoritarian societies blow up, always do, and your family can blow up if you’re just an authoritarian do what I say, don’t ask any questions, etc.
Doug: So you’re saying that if we go serve others and I’m compassionate towards others and encourage my kids to be with me in this, it will help me in my relationship with them? If I spend the time and energy, it will help my relationship long term with them?
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Now you might have a kid who reacts to your kindness for whatever reason in a completely different way, and they have a shellfish bent to them. And you the black sheep in the family, for lack of a better term, the kid who’s going to go the other way. You have the prodigal. Does that happen? It does. How come that happens? We don’t know. But for whatever reason, one kid says, you know what, I’m not falling in line here, I’m going to go do my own thing.
Doug: We have a family in our community that’s fallen on hard times and so we every now and then get together the family and say, okay, we have a bunch of money we want to give away to people. And our kids are like, we want to give a bunch to them because we just love blessing them. And it is amazing to see how our kids respond to that. They’d rather do that than get more stuff for themselves. Interesting.
Dr. Leman: Let the kids hand carry the envelope to the door. Let them say the words, this is a gift from the Turpening family. It’s a wonderful feeling to give to other people. It’s a wonderful feeling to help. You heard me in another podcast I was talking about the fact I have to raise $400,000 for Leman Prep, our high school. It’s not in my nature to ask people for things. I’m one of those people that says, it’ll come somehow. Well I’m in a position now where I’ve got to sort of ask because if I don’t ask, I’m not going to receive anything. I’m just trusting there’s people out there who love education, who want to make a difference, who support a value-driven high school, who’ll pony up and just out of the blue, I’m just trusting that people are going to give. I’ve given all my life.
Dr. Leman: I’ve said this publicly and it’s true. I don’t have a savings account on purpose. I’m going to spend and invest in people and our kids and our family and other people’s families. Never been bent on saving for the rainy day. It’s probably not the best thing, but it’s who I am. We’re all givers, all five of our kids are givers. It’s not coincidence. Even if four or five were givers and one of them was a hedonistic, selfish little brat, it’s still 80%, that’s pretty good.
Doug: It’s interesting, James is back in Costa Rica serving down there, and all he’s doing is serving. Like he’s doing dishes and building foundations for people who don’t have homes. And he is more happy and communicating more to us again while he’s serving. Interesting.
Dr. Leman: Plus he’s thankful for the family and the surroundings he grew up in.
Andrea: Very much so.
Doug: He just sent us the most passionate texts we’ve probably ever gotten from him about his siblings even while he was doing it. It was crazy. Oh yeah, like Jonathan, you have the gift of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and I love being with you. Like to his brother, his little brother who he hates.
Andrea: He said I’m laying here in my hammock crying and I appreciate you all so much.
Dr. Leman: He’s growing up.
Andrea: But the next day he’ll be like, I am so happy down here.
Doug: And all he’s doing is serving. So you’re right, it does change you, doesn’t it?
Dr. Leman: It does. It’s all about the heart.
Doug: And I thank you because this is one of the concepts that you helped me realize when we first started about giving opportunities to serve because this is not going to shock you, Mrs. Turpening is way more of the giver in the family. I’m way more the taker. You help me understand that would help my parenting and my kids grow up with a better attitude of who they are. So thank you.
Dr. Leman: You know, when I come home from an event, those people sorta come home with me. We had a dessert at this church on Saturday night for women only. I shared the truth with women. I said, you’re weird, you play with each other’s hair. You hug anything that moves. You ask us husbands way too many questions, we don’t like your question. We hate the why word. Your husband needs to feel needed by you and wanted by you and did all those kinds of things. We had a great time. But at the end of this session, they had a Q&A and a lot of people asked questions about their husbands, everything from spiritual leadership to you name it.
Dr. Leman: But toward the end, a lady by the name of Barbara just got up and she said, well, I lost my husband three years ago. We were married 54 years. What Dr. Leman has told you is really true. Don’t waste a day. Don’t let the day go by. It brought tears to my eyes. I leaned down, I hugged her. I said, oh, Barbara, that’s great. I said, you and I are going out drinking after. I brought the house down with laughter. But what a great spirit and what great wisdom in this lady who was married for 54 years to this man she loved. And she’s passing it on to the young people. Don’t waste today, be a difference maker. Show your kids what compassion, love and understanding and giving is all about and your kids will end up being givers in all probability.
Andrea: Wow, that’s powerful story.
Doug: Thank you Dr. Leman. And you know, it makes me think of your book, The Way of the Wise, again, helping people about the heart. It’s a good book.
Dr. Leman: I spoke on that topic at the church on Sunday morning. It’s become my favorite Sunday morning message to people. And people resonate with that. You want to be a difference maker, and the best place for you to be a difference maker, the best place in your own home. So, do a good job. Notice I’m not saying be perfect, just do a good job. Things will be good.
Andrea: And I was reminded in this last year, I was listening to a couple different sermons, and it was pointed out that Jesus was driven by compassion and I was really struck by that. Am I driven by compassion like Jesus was? He moved by compassion whenever he did his miracles.
Dr. Leman: I love the scene where they brought Jesus, they brought this woman who was a little on the promiscuous side to put it bluntly and sort of threw her down in front of him. As they were saying stone this woman, Jesus knelt down and he wrote in the dirt, now we don’t know what he wrote, but he must have written things that everybody in that crowd could identify with. And apparently, they peeled off one at a time. And the message is that we’ve all fallen short or imperfect by our nature and don’t forget it. If you live your life like that, people will be drawn to you, if you’re authentic can you flaunt your imperfection. If you’re one of those people who insist on having all of life’s answers in your back pocket, good luck because sometimes you fall short.
Doug: Well thanks for being with us. It was so great to learn again how can we be compassionate, how can we learn to serve others. And as always, we love getting your questions. You can go to birthorderguy.com/podcastquestion, hit the microphone and just right there, leave your question for us and it might end up on the air, which is really, really fun for us. And as always, this week alone, March 5 to 11, you can get Under the Sheets for $1.99. And we would love it if you’d give us a rating. If you are on iTunes and you’re listening to this, if you want to give us a two star or five star or a 20 star, I know you only get five stars, that would be great. Well, we hope this helps add to your parenting toolbox so that you can love those kids more and more.
Andrea: Have a great day.