They never put this situation in any parenting handbook.
A few years ago we went to a restaurant for dinner. As we approached the entrance there was a man with a hat in hand asking for change. He started saying that he was clean for six months, trying...
A few years ago we went to a restaurant for dinner. As we approached the entrance there was a man with a hat in hand asking for change. He started saying that he was clean for six months, trying to get his life together. He needed money for food, not booze or drugs.
My seven year son at the time had never being exposed to this type of person ,he was observing him very carefully. We are blessed with a child who is very kind hearted, and would probably give the shirt off his back to help someone in need. So naturally he asks me to give the man some money, which I did.
The problem for me was a moral dilemma, I knew that guy was as high as kite, and was tugging at people’s heart strings for cash. The quandary was do I explain this to my seven year old, or just let him feel good that we did a nice thing for a person in need? I chose the latter.
During the meal my son was very quite and pensive. It had been a long day so I caulked it up to being fatigued. After dinner we drove back to my Mothers place, I dropped everyone off at the door except my son who wanted to go park the car with me. As soon as everyone left he started crying. I asked him what was wrong. He was very sad because the man in front of the restaurant had no where to live, nothing to eat, what is he going to do?
I gave him a tissue and said life isn’t always fair to people. Some people live on the street because they choose that lifestyle, and others have had bad luck in their lives. Many of the people who ask for money are addicted to drugs and alcohol. There are shelters where they can sleep and have a bite to eat; some even receive government money every month.
As you get older you will know the difference between people who are having bad luck, and those who are on the street because they are addicted to alcohol or drugs. I wouldn’t worry too much about the man at the restaurant because he will continue to find his way. All we can do is really appreciate what we have, and hope that things will change for people like that.
I thought we had a pretty good talk; and he would have a better understanding of how these things in life work.
When he saw my wife, the first thing out of his mouth was how come dad doesn’t care about the man outside the restaurant? My wife not knowing what was going on looks at me surprised. I told her with pride how I explained to him a bit about how the world we live in works, and recounted are conversation. She said he is seven years old, how do you expect him to understand these things. I was under the impression kids understood more than we gave them credit about. She then goes back to my son and starts’ telling him, it is not that dad doesn’t care, he was just trying too….
Boy I felt that I really screwed this one up until…
A few weeks later we happen to be in Ottawa and this person about 20 years old, dressed fairly well is going from car to car asking for spare change. My son out of nowhere said this person is not having bad luck; look at what he is wearing Dad.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arnold Nadler is a long-time entrepreneur and founder of The Startup Business Doctor, a private company specializing in helping new and small businesses get their company off the ground. Programs include professional coaching, franchise opportunities and inexpensive advertising packages. You can get more information at StartUpBusinessDoctor.com