Raising Courageous Kids

My heart sank heavily Monday morning after I watched a news clip on GMA about murder charges being filed against the fraternity in the December death of 19-year-old Chun “Michael” Deng. Michael died two days after experiencing blunt force trauma to the head during a hazing ritual with his fraternity on a retreat in Pennsylvania, and the tragedy grows deeper as the details of the story unfold.
After Michael lost consciousness, his fraternity brothers waited an hour before three of them took him to get medical attention.
One full hour.
This delay, this hesitation, this time to debate and decide and worry about getting into trouble, is where this tragedy grips my heart. I truly hope some of those fraternity brothers knew what they needed to do to save their friend. So why didn’t they act? Is this an example of negative peer pressure at its worst? Or is it an example of self-preservation outweighing the value of another’s life?
As a parent, this tragedy fills me with compassion for all of the families involved while also stirring a deep desire for me to do my best to raise brave, courageous and compassionate kids. Even though my children are only two and a half, I don’t think it’s ever too early to start to instill these values.
I want to take my girls to volunteer, serve and give of themselves so they will learn the value and joy of making sacrifices for others.
I want to encourage my girls to consider the perspectives and feelings of others so they won’t hesitate for even a second when it comes to seeking help for the suffering.
I want my girls to learn to own their mistakes, even when it means facing the consequences of their actions, so they will value integrity.
I want to teach my girls how to stand up for what’s right even when they hear 29 (or more) of their friends trying to convince them to do otherwise.
I want to find news stories about courageous men, women and children and share them with my girls to encourage and inspire us all.
I want to remind my girls about the bravery of their great-grandfathers who fought in World War II and the Korean War and challenge them to live a life worthy of the sacrifice made by these great men with whom they share a family name.
This compassion and courage won’t develop over night, and I know I will have to model these values daily if I truly want to teach them to my girls. The task seems daunting, but I’m up for the challenge. Michael’s loss deserves to be honored with a commitment to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring in the future.
Parents, are you with me? Who knows whose lives may depend on the courage of our children one day.