firetruckAs parents we spend years teaching our children that they need to obey and follow the rules, but almost as important is giving them the skills and sense of self to know when it's okay to break those same rules at the right time. An 11-year-old boy in Massachusetts, Jared Flanders, recently provided a perfect example of disobedience that would make any parent proud.

According to a story on MSNBC, the boy was alone at his home in Worcester, Massachusetts, with orders not to leave the house. But then something moved him to the point he just had to do it. It wasn't for candy or to go meet up with a friend or anything else your typical 11-year-old might sneak out to go do, however. Instead Jared was driven by a mission of compassion.

He had heard about a wake for a local firefighter, Jon Davies, who had died in service, and wanted to pay his respects. So he made a choice, and he put on his suit and tie then rode his bike about a mile to attend the fallen firefighter's wake.

When those gathered learned he was there alone and how he got there, there was an outpouring of emotion and support for what the boy had done. There were no worries about him getting home from the wake; however, police gave an escort home, and he was invited to ride in the funeral procession.

His sense of compassion and bravery at such a young age is amazing and perhaps at least partially inspired by the fact that he lost his half-brother, who had fought in Iraq, this summer. He told The Boston Herald:

I wanted to say thanks for saving all those people. Thanks for trying so hard. We’ll all miss you. I felt very bad for him — he was going to get married. The poor guy. I kept thinking how good he was and how hard he worked.

His father was amazed to learn what his son did, and while he said they are revisiting the rules, he just can't bring himself to punish him for breaking them this time. I do wonder if Jared attempted to get a hold of his dad to ask him for help in attending or to let him know that he was going. In any case, he got there, and it meant the world to the family and firefighters gathered to mourn this hero.

Of course, there are plenty of things that could have happened to Jared along the way, but they didn't. And if he's mature enough to make such a brave decision, then my guess is he could pretty much handle himself in most situations. And ultimately, some things are just worth the risk.

Such judgement and compassion aren't things that can be taught, but hopefully are things we instill in our children through our actions and example. Telling kids it's okay to break the rules usually doesn't work, but showing them how important it is to follow their heart for the right reasons is an amazing gift to give them. Many great things in life wouldn't happen if people always followed the rules, and Jared's attendance at this funeral was one of them.

Do you teach your kids it's okay to not always follow the rules? How would you feel if your child did something like this?


Image via scazon/Flickr