Working with children is one of the most rewarding activities ever. Working with homeless children has extra rewards because of the endless possibilities to make a difference in a little one’s life.
Children living in motels face some very gruesome situations every day. They see things the majority of us may never encounter even once in our entire lifetimes. Don’t let this be an excuse for you to pity the children you work with. They need your compassion always—your pity never. Don’t even try to give them your understanding because you can’t, unless you grew up in a motel yourself.
Pity causes you to treat a child differently. It cripples your ability to be someone who can make a lasting difference to the child if all you can see in front of you is “damaged goods”. You will find yourself wanting to “give them a break” and let inappropriate behavior such as bad language, name calling or greediness slide.
If you care, you correct. Always with words, never physically. Taking the time to show a child the correct way to go is the ultimate act of love. Children who are well mannered are treated better by everyone, starting with teachers and ending with employers and peers later on in life. They are “likeable” because someone took the time to help them learn to be that way.
Don’t make the mistake of treating every homeless child you meet as if they’re a little heathen in need of correcting, because quite a few of them have beautiful manners, taught by caring parents. However, when you encounter that little “diamond in the rough” look at it as your opportunity to make a big difference in a little life.
You will encounter children who just need a few lessons in “Please and “Thank You’. Apply pressure lovingly and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get the right results. You will also encounter children who are well on the way to being little con artists.
You may never fully change them, but you can surely let them know you see right through them and they aren’t fooling you. This is powerful. You may be the only person who ever tells that child, “No, you cannot do that”. It may make no difference at all, or, it may be a turning point in the child’s life. Remember, everyone who ever embarked on a life of crime started somewhere, as a child, with some small thing and got away with it.
Dare to care enough to be the one who is willing to stand at the crossroads with a child and ease them in the direction of good behavior. You could be saving a life. You’ll never know, but it’s not important that you do. What’s important is that you step up and let that child know how much you care.