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Businessman’s Kindness Towards Girl with Autism Hope-Renewing

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2014 Mar 14

You may have seen the headlines:

- Hotel guest leaves nasty letter for parents of crying baby

Panera Bread kicks out toddler with disability over orthopedic shoes, mom says

- Restaurant bans kids at night, joins others in adding child-free policy

Sometimes it seems like the culture is making our job as parents more difficult. While I understand that some moms and dads can be overly permissive, there are signs that the general public’s tolerance towards children seems to be waning.

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that intentional childlessness is on the rise, and more and more adults haven’t experienced parenthood themselves. Or maybe we’re so preoccupied with our comfort we forget that sometimes even the best-behaved child will have a bad day.

Whatever the reason, it might be easy to get discouraged if you’re a parent.

That’s what makes “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C” all the more hope-renewing. Mom Shanell Mouland penned this heartfelt blog post to the man who sat next to her three-year-old, Kate, on their recent flight home from Disney World.

Taking a flight with a toddler will make most any parent at least a little bit apprehensive. However, Mouland had an extra reason to feel nervous about the flight: her daughter Kate has autism. “She can be quirky, and she can have meltdowns,” explained Mouland during her HuffPost Live interview.

Mouland’s anxiety only increased when a businessman with a briefcase full of important documents sat next to Kate. The worried mom envisioned the worst.

Turns out she had nothing to fear.

Rather than slight Kate’s overtures, this kind man engaged the small girl. She called him “Daddy” and smiled – and he responded by engaging her in conversation without a hint of annoyance.

And when Kate reached her limit towards the end of the flight, the businessman with the big heart tried to help calm her.

This gentleman’s simple act of compassion towards a little girl with autism did more than make a long plane trip bearable. It touched a mother’s heart. It restored the mother’s hope that there are people out there who genuinely care about children, even those who might have special needs.

And gauging from the response the article has gotten on Huffington Post, I would say that this man’s kindness has touched a lot of other people as well. I hope these readers will be inspired to extend that same generosity of spirit to other moms and dads coping as best they can in challenging situations.

And to my readers who are parents: be encouraged that there are still folks out there who understand that what you do isn’t easy. I know that’s the case because Focus on the Family is full of people who are here to help you parent well – and to cheer you on in your vital roles as moms and dads!

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