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I’m teaching my kids that when someone’s sad, you put their needs before your own.

My middle daughter was hysterically crying in my lap. I stroked her head as her tears dripped between my fingers, soaking through my pants. I tried everything to cheer her up, but she was stuck in her sadness. I put on Paw Patrol, her favorite show, and she still sobbed through it, too tired from the whole day to get past bumping heads with her elder sister.

My eldest sat quietly on the couch, unphased by her sister’s sobs.

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“Mom, can you change the channel? I want to watch The Little Mermaid, not Paw Patrol,” she asked.

 “Not right now. This is your sister’s favorite show, and when someone’s sad, we put their needs before our own so they can feel better. So, when she’s happy again, we’ll watch The Little Mermaid.”

 “OK, Mommy,” she answered and sat back, her little body sinking into the couch. 

And for my strong-willed eldest to accept no and not complain—because she usually isn’t so agreeable—I knew she understood.

Because I’m teaching my kids that when someone’s sad, you put their needs before your own. 

That when your friend’s crying and doesn’t feel well at a party, you take her home and care for her instead of continuing your fun.

That when your friend’s going through a breakup, you bring over her choice dinner and watch her favorite movies with her, even if you hate what she chooses.

That when your sister isn’t included and feels sad, you stay behind with her, so she feels less alone. 

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Because I want to raise kids who know how their actions impact others.

Because I want to raise kids who are good friends and family members.

Because I want to raise kids who have healthy relationships that aren’t just about their needs. 

Because I want to raise kids who honor others’ pain. 

Because I want to raise kids who ask what they can do to help and take action.

Because I want to raise good humans—and it starts with putting other people’s needs who are hurting before your own.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

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Dani Sherman-Lazar

Dani Sherman-Lazar is an eating disorder advocate, Vice President of a transportation company, and a mother to three daughters. Follow her on her blog Living a Full Life After ED and like it on Facebook. Her book Living Full: Winning My Battle with Eating Disorders is available on Amazon.

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