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Parenting dilemma: what do you do if your kids are too kind?

When I first moved to Sydney, I sometimes used to find it confronting to walk down the busy city streets. There were beggars sitting silently with signs in front of them, or people asking me directly for money.

Over the years I learnt not to make eye contact. I would tune everyone out and keep walking. I wasn’t giving anything to anyone. I told myself that most of these people had complex issues, to do with mental health or addiction, and the solution lay in better funding for services that would help them in the long term.

Or maybe I’d just become a bit mean.

(Image: Supplied)

Nowadays, when I walk down city streets, I usually have my kids with me. They haven’t learnt to tune people out yet. My kids want to give money to everyone. Every busker, every beggar.

“Mum, Mum, can I have some money?” they ask me constantly, before rushing off to give it away.

Last week, after my six-year-old son had dropped some coins in a busker’s guitar case, I saw a man selling The Big Issue. “A lot of people who sell that magazine are homeless,” I told my son. “And it’s hard to find a job when you’re homeless.”

“Why?”

“Because you don’t have an address, and you don’t have nice-looking clothes to wear. So some homeless people sell this magazine, and they get to keep half the money people pay them. So if we bought a magazine off this man, maybe he could buy a coffee.”

“So what’s he going to eat for lunch?” my son asked. “Other people will buy magazines off him too,” I told him.

We watched him for a few minutes, but we didn’t see him selling any more magazines.

“Do you want to buy him lunch?” I asked my son. “Yes!” he said immediately. We bought a magazine from the man.

bans on sleeping rough
"My kids haven’t learnt to tune people out yet, they want to give money to everyone." (Image: ABC)
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“Would you like something to eat?” my son asked. “No, I’m fine,” the man said, smiling at him.

“Can I get you a pie from that bakery over there?” I asked.

“Oh, sure, thanks.”

My son delivered the pie and we walked on. My kids are kinder than me. If they think someone needs money, they will give it to them. It’s as simple as that. I once saw my son leaving coins in the playground for other people to find.

“Rich people wouldn’t pick up the coins because they don’t need the money,” he told me confidently.

Listen: Nikki McWatters is the mother of five who pulled her family out of poverty. Post continues...

Maybe he is too kind. But I would rather him be too kind than not kind enough. He makes me want to be kinder so that I don’t disappoint him.

Having children makes you reassess your own life, in so many ways. Their constant questions challenge your beliefs. You think about the example you’re setting, in everything from how you lose at Snakes & Ladders to how you react when another driver cuts in front of you.

As a parent, you’re trying to raise your kids to become good people. Sometimes, in the process, they help you become a better person too.

How do you kids inspire you to be a better person?

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