Do you give people the benefit of the doubt in front of your kids? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-23-2010, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Today someone came up to me with a long and complicated sob story about just needing enough gas money to get the nearest gas station, had forgotten wallet, couldn't get hold of brother, etc. I was almost sure that he was lying but I happened to have $5 on me (I usually don't have cash) and I had just managed to find a free parking space where I was expecting to pay so I gave it to him and told him to 'pay it forward'. Somehow, I felt I should model compassion and trust in front of my kids, rather than cynicism. My kids are only little. Afterwards, I realised that maybe I should be teaching my kids to be a bit more street savvy but maybe I will when they are older. What would/ do you do? 

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Old 11-23-2010, 08:46 PM
 
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well considering that I ran out of gas on the way to pick up SO monday night (we have a faulty gas thingy and osmething is wrong with our car that makes it gobble gas), so, considering that I ran out of gas with both kids in the car, was parked on a dark street, and had to use a stranger's phone to call SO, who then had to wlk to the gas station and ask someone for money so WE could get to his old job to pick up his paycheck and get more gas, yeah I'm gald you gave the guy the money. its quite possible that he waslying but you just never know.


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Old 11-24-2010, 09:39 AM
 
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I do and I don't.  That guy's story didn't make sense.  What's he going to do after he gets enough money to buy enough gas to get to a gas station with no wallet?  He's going to have to walk to the gas station, leave a deposit for a gas can, unless he has one in his trunk, walk back to the car with the gas, put it in, drive to the gas station to fill up enough to get where he is going.  But he doesn't have a wallet, money, credit card, atm card?  Plus he is driving without his license?

 

I make my decision, tell the person yes or no, and then explain why to ds afterward.  I know people target women with children because they are more likely to say yes.  Either they think the woman will be nervous because she has her kids with her, or they think she'll be a softy, or they think she won't want to say no and appear cynical in front of her kids.

 

I remind ds that these people have other resources for help so he doesn't worry about them.  If they are asking for money for food, there are soup kitchens and shelters.  They can always call the police if they are having a real problem.  Sometimes I do give someone a dollar or some change towards a sandwich.  Sometimes I have an apple or packaged snack in my bag that I offer them.


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Old 11-24-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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Lying or not, he was in need. Well done. I'd have done the same. And have.

 

I recently was visiting the boy, and was approached by someone on the train platform asking for money. I literally had just enough for my fare, which I told her. She was fine, and moved on.

 

The following week, I was visiting him for a different event, and who should approach me on the street. I had cash, so I gave her some. Was I scammed? Probably. Such is life.

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Old 11-24-2010, 09:58 AM
 
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Gavin de Becker encourages parents to help kids tune in to their instincts. So the thing to teach is neither "We give the benefit of the doubt to people" nor "We don't trust anyone" but "Do I trust this person?"

 

He had some suggestions on how that might look in practice - after interacting with a person and walking away you might say "what did you think of that person? Yes, I thought he was really nice too, I thought he seemed like a genuinely friendly and helpful person." or "She seemed nice but I thought it felt kind of forced, like she didn't really care, what do you think?" or "Why do you think he was so interested in where we were going?" etc. Getting them thinking about people, aware that people have various motivations, aware that they have good instincts for sizing people up, aware that they have the right to not like or trust a person.

 

It was ok that you gave him the money, but it would be helpful to say "Did you believe his story?" and mention that you didn't think you did. And point out that he might have just hoped you'd give him money so he couild go buy something he wanted. And just mention that you decided to give him the money because you could spare it and that felt ok to you, but if you had felt scared you would have done XYZ instead.


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Old 11-24-2010, 10:24 AM
 
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The gas story is a common scam, here where I live, so I probably would not have believed him. We live in a large urban center and I regularly give both money and food (leftovers or an apple from my purse) to folks who ask for spare change. However I don't like being approached by strangers with long stories (which I consider to be different from  regular spare changing), and generally do not give these people what they are asking for because I don't trust them. So I guess DD has seen me be both generous, and the opposite.

 

One time DD and I were at a museum and a guy tried to give her candy while I wasn't looking. I took it out of her hand and gave it right back to him, saying that we don't accept gifts from people we don't know. I noticed him near us several times during our visit at the museum, and when we were preparing to leave he started to walk out the door at the same time. I let him walk out, then DD and I stayed inside. He dawdled outside the Museum for a bit and then finally walked away. I watched him until he was well out of sight, and explained to DD what I was doing. "That man is getting too near us. There's something not right about that. We will wait here until he is gone." Now he could have been a befuddled tourist who was just trying to be friendly, but I wasn't going to ignore my inner warning.

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Old 11-24-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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The gas story is a scam here as well and I would not have given the man money.

 

I do not give money to panhandlers for a couple of reasons. Most of them will use the money for alcohol or drugs-whether to self medicate or out of addiction. When we lived in Washington DC the situation was very bad-if you gave money to one panhandler you would find yourself surrounded by others demanding moeny and it would get scary.

 

The social network in this country is an embarrassment. Me giving a few bucks to a panhandler on the street solves nothing. I prefer to give money directly to organizations on the front line of the homeless fight. I know my money goes towards food and shelter, and I feel it goes further and does a lot more good.

 

I have immense sympathy for people for are homeless and desperate. I do not however give money on the street.

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Old 11-24-2010, 11:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by oaktreemama View Post

The gas story is a scam here as well and I would not have given the man money.

 

I do not give money to panhandlers for a couple of reasons. Most of them will use the money for alcohol or drugs-whether to self medicate or out of addiction. When we lived in Washington DC the situation was very bad-if you gave money to one panhandler you would find yourself surrounded by others demanding moeny and it would get scary.

 

The social network in this country is an embarrassment. Me giving a few bucks to a panhandler on the street solves nothing. I prefer to give money directly to organizations on the front line of the homeless fight. I know my money goes towards food and shelter, and I feel it goes further and does a lot more good.

 

I have immense sympathy for people for are homeless and desperate. I do not however give money on the street.

yeahthat.gif

 

In our area people ask for gas money all the time, and I've never had a good feeling about it.  Just a scam.  I don't ever give money on the street because I know it usually goes toward drugs and alcohol.  I have even known people with homes and plenty of food who panhandle or do these scams, and it is purely for drug money.  I prefer to give my money or time to organizations that I know truly help people, and I'm fine with teaching my kids that. 

 

I also don't like the idea of pulling out my wallet in front of them, who knows if they will snatch it with my credit cards & ID in it.  That's not street smart, either.

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Old 11-24-2010, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. To answer some posters - one of the reasons I felt that his story was bogus was because he had all the angles covered already. I didn't bother going into details before and to be honest, I wasn't listening that closely but there was a lot more details. He also put a lot of store in the fact that he was a local resident which made me suspicious, why does it matter? The money was in my pocket - I don't think I would have pulled out my wallet. Looking back, I think maybe I should have said something to my 3 year old afterwards. The fact is, however, that he must have been pretty sad and desperate to do that, whatever the reason and that $5 wasn't destined for charity in any case. In fact, I went straight out and bought us hot chocolates for $5. I guess I want my children to be trusting and believe that people are innately good, but I also don't want them to be vulnerable. I think I should read that book that everyone keeps talking about. Food for thought.

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Old 11-24-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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When it comes to money, no I don't.  For me this is a safety thing.  If you do not know a person and you open your wallet to them like this they could be staking you out to rob you. I have explained this to my kids.

 

Now I have ran and got gas for a person. 

 

I have brought a homeless person, food, sleeping bag, et.  

 

That is because if they are truly in need they often will wait for you.  

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Old 11-24-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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I don't carry cash.  Not more than $1 or $2 stray dollars at a time.  So I would have honestly said "I'm sorry, I don't have any cash on me."  I would have offered to call someone for him.  Or given him a few quarters for a pay phone if one was nearby.

 

And then I would have talked to my kids about combining compassion with street safety, and what they think are good ideas for doing that.  Probably they would instigate the question faster than I could, actually.

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Old 11-24-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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I very rarely have cash on me. But I have given money before and I haven't all depends on my mood, and if I felt they were being honest. 

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Old 11-24-2010, 06:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

Lying or not, he was in need.

What makes you say that?


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Old 11-24-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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I teach my children to not give to beggars on the street. It is not neccesarily safe and they could break themselves trying to save every single person who comes by.  Aside from all that, how many times have you read in the news about a woman being raped or assaulted while she is trying to dig a 5 dollar bill out of her purse or otherwise? No way. I feel it would have been a much better example to say no and teach your children how to be safe and protect themselves. If you want to teach them charity, take them to a legitamate place to do volunteer work or otherwise. Soup kitchens and such are always looking for help.

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Old 11-24-2010, 06:49 PM
 
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Thanks for all the replies. To answer some posters - one of the reasons I felt that his story was bogus was because he had all the angles covered already. I didn't bother going into details before and to be honest, I wasn't listening that closely but there was a lot more details. He also put a lot of store in the fact that he was a local resident which made me suspicious, why does it matter? The money was in my pocket - I don't think I would have pulled out my wallet. Looking back, I think maybe I should have said something to my 3 year old afterwards. The fact is, however, that he must have been pretty sad and desperate to do that, whatever the reason and that $5 wasn't destined for charity in any case. In fact, I went straight out and bought us hot chocolates for $5. I guess I want my children to be trusting and believe that people are innately good, but I also don't want them to be vulnerable. I think I should read that book that everyone keeps talking about. Food for thought.



 

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Old 11-24-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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I would donate my time to a soup kitchen but unfortunately I would not be likely to donate money or resources because the people who work there tend to take advantage of their position. They tak home the good food, they pick through the lcothing to find stuff for THEIR kids before putting it out for the people actually in need. I know epople will tell me,"most places aren't like this, that's just your perception" but I have been to quite a few food pantries, shelters and clothing closets and have had people on both side tell me the same thing. I know people who work at one right now who offer to bring me food that they have grabbed off the trucks before it gets distributed. My uncle runs a very large and well known homeless charity/work program in New York City and he has been in the papers for allegedly dipping into the donation funds for his own personal gain. All those social service places are corrupt at one level or another.

 

So, yeah, I'd rather give my money directly to the person. At least I know where it's going. even if they don't do what I'd want them to, there's no guarantee that a charity would do any better.


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Old 11-24-2010, 06:56 PM
 
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We regularly give some change that's left over after we're done at the farmer's market to one specific man.  If I don't have any change left, I'll give him an apple, a slice of pizza if that's what we got that day, whatever.  I don't open my wallet to give money to anyone, period.  If it's in my pocket, I'll give it, but I'm not reaching for my purse.  Outside of market day, I rarely have change and I rarely go places where I'll encounter someone asking for change.


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Old 11-24-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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Not necessarily, no. But, I'm not the most polite person either - a guy who helped ds1 to our car yesterday apparently expected/wanted me to stand there and 'pray to the lord' with him, in a freaking parking lot. But no, I took my son from him, and pulled my hand out of his and drove away. I suppose the polite thing to do would have just been to stand there and nod along wit him as he spouted off. But ya know what? I'm not a christian. I have *zero* desire to 'pray to the lord' - especially seeing as I don't believe in him. And I am *not* going to humor you just for the sake of it. Sorry. 

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Old 11-24-2010, 07:54 PM
 
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I sometimes give a snack or gloves to someone on the street, but never money. I lived with someone 9 years ago who came up with her entire rent by asking people for spare change. She was fully capable of making money for herself. Also we are vegetarians and I dont want to contribute to meat eating.


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Old 11-24-2010, 09:17 PM
 
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I sometimes give and I sometimes don't, it depends on how I feel about the person. I often do not carry cash either. I did actually get asked for money last week with all my kids with me. We were all dressed up going somewhere so we did look like we had some to spare, I didn't have any cash but that was one time were I still would of choose not to give. DD1 is 7, we talked about it later. I gladly went a block to the bank this summer and gave a 20 to a kid passing through town because it felt right. I won't do it if I have doubts though. 


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Old 11-24-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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I give people the benefit of the doubt.  period.  Regardless of if my children are with me.  I do not act any differently for the benefit of my children than I would if they were not around.


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Old 11-25-2010, 12:36 AM
 
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I think it depends on the situation.

 

My dd and I were approached one chilly evening by a woman needing a ride. She had this long story about needing to pick up her kid but didn't want to use my phone to call the sitter to say what was happening. A few minutes before she approached us I saw her talking with a group of young guys and it looked like she was laughing and joking with them. I got the feeling maybe the guys were going to be in another car following us to her "babysitters" house and something bad would happen. I refused. Dd asked me why we didn't help that lady and I told her that sometimes people don't have good intentions and told lies to get you to do something for them and that I did not have a good feeling about that lady. It was kind of hard for her to grasp at that time but now I have known her to change directions while riding her bike because she saw someone that made her feel "off".

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Old 11-25-2010, 06:10 AM
 
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I will not give cash to anyone with very rare exceptions.  The other day at the supermarket out in the parking lot, an elderly woman asked me for 50 cents so she could have enough for bus fare.  I gave it to her.  She had 2 shopping bags so I believed that she honestly ran out of money.

 

I've heard the gas scam so many times before.  Once though, I was actually filling my car at a gas station and a guy and his buddy pushed his car in to the pump next to mine.  He was embarassed to ask me could I put a couple of dollars of gas in his car as he was dead broke.  I did it, no biggie.  I've also always given food to anyone that claims they are hungry. 

 

There are homeless guys that hang out on the George Washington Bridge here in NY and panhandle.  I used to travel over it everyday and one of the guys had the cutest little kitty that would be perched on his shoulder.  When traffic was bad and at a standstill, the guys would panhandle to the cars.  I started bringing cat food and giving it to the guy that had the kitty.  He was so appreciative.  I also brought him a little snack too.

I'm a sucker for animals.

 

I guess that I want to teach my DS to be empathetic and cautious at the same time.


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Old 11-25-2010, 06:24 AM
 
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I would not give. I suppose I have read to many  stories of women being attacked. I would get in my car fast,or get into a store. I will never open the door for anyone I am not expecting. People have cell phones to call others for help. Before I had a cell and broke down on the highway I decline help until an officer arrived to call a tow.Now I have my cell and make sure it is charged before I leave for the day.

 

My dh often gets approached as a OTR driver.He will not give cash,but he often offers to buy a person a meal.I don't think anyone has taken him up on it. He has also been beaten and robbed 2 times.You just never know what the person approaching you will do.

 

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Old 11-25-2010, 06:55 AM
 
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Sorry, I wouldn't have. Kids with me or not, I don't appreciate being taken advantage of. And I don't want my kids to learn to allow that, either. 

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Old 11-25-2010, 07:58 AM
 
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I think you have to teach your kids a lot of things and sometimes those things can seem contradictory.  I need to teach my daughter that there are people in need and it's often up to the rest of us to help them out.  I also need to teach her to use her head and be safe.  I have had a few bad experiences with people asking for money then blocking my car, crowding me, etc.  I am probably not going to give to someone on the street or stick around long enough for some long drawn out story.  It feels unsafe to me and in my experience, it can BE unsafe.  What I can do is teach my daughter that we support groups that provide support as best we can and as our budget allows.  I will sometimes give money to people at intersections, esp if they have a "homeless vet" sign because for whatever reason, that is my weak spot and I can hand someone the money and keep rolling, so it seems safer (also, does anyone know why I can't make paragraphs or go back and edit?  this is a pain!).

 

 

 

 

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Old 11-25-2010, 07:59 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

Lying or not, he was in need. Well done. I'd have done the same. And have.

 

I recently was visiting the boy, and was approached by someone on the train platform asking for money. I literally had just enough for my fare, which I told her. She was fine, and moved on.

 

The following week, I was visiting him for a different event, and who should approach me on the street. I had cash, so I gave her some. Was I scammed? Probably. Such is life.

 

Agreed.  I prefer to believe my gut.  If my gut says "no problem" I do it, if I can.  People have needs for whatever reason and it all comes back around. 
 


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Old 11-25-2010, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. On reflection, I feel fine with giving him the money. I don't think I would have pulled out my wallet though. My eldest is only 3 but I will think about how to speak to him about these things in the future. 

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