Engaged parenting

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It wasn’t — by a long stretch — the most important thing to happen in Suffolk last month, and the story about their donation wasn’t even the most important news to appear in Sunday’s edition of the Suffolk News-Herald, but young Trae Denise and Stenette Byrd IV struck a chord with the people of Suffolk for their decision to donate a big birthday haul of sporting goods to children who are less fortunate than themselves.

By Tuesday afternoon, the story had been shared twice from the newspaper’s website, and readers had already given it “thumbs-up” by clicking “Like” at the top of the story 80 times.

In case you missed it, the twins turned 7 this month. They had a birthday party May 31, when friends and family loaded them up with footballs, soccer balls, baseball bats and all manner of sporting goods that would have satisfied the drive of even the most dedicated athlete for many months to come.

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But dad Stenette Byrd III, principal at King’s Fork High School, and mom Tonya Byrd, an engineer at Surry Nuclear Power Station, suggested the children think differently. Their parents wanted to show Trae and Stenette IV “that when you have as much as we do, it’s good to extend that to other people,” she explained.

Given that slight nudge, the children chose to donate their birthday gifts to students at their school, Northern Shores Elementary, and to members of the Boys and Girls Club of Suffolk.

After seeing how much their generosity was appreciated, Trae Denise and Stenette IV are unlikely to soon forget the lesson they learned about giving. But there’s a lesson here for parents, as well, and it is this: There are few truly important things in life that children will learn without parents being intentional about teaching them.

The Byrd twins are probably wonderful children, but it’s unlikely they ever would have thought to make their selfless donation without the suggestion from their parents. That’s what engaged parenting is all about — looking for opportunities to teach children the lessons that will make them better adults.

The world could use a little more generosity, but it also could use a few more engaged parents.