Teaching Your Children the True Meaning of Charity
According to a study by UCLA, it is believed that 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40 percent of the toys consumed globally. And, the Huffington Post has indicated that the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing (or more) each and every year. Let’s not stop there, as the Wall Street Journal has indicated that Americans spend over $1 trillion each year on things they don’t need.
Those results are staggering. As adults, if we are creating and living this life of excess, what kind of message are we sending to our children? While giving a child many gifts might not create a sense of entitlement, when you do not teach children how to respect those gifts and to be thankful for what they have, it can happen.
So how do we help create a sense of charity and good towards others for our children? It starts with us and our own behaviors. If you sense that your children are showing signs of entitlement and a “want, want, want” personality, here are three easy suggestions to help teach them to “give, give, give.”
▪ At least once per week, have your children do something that is nice for someone else. For example, during the fall, if you see an elderly neighbor raking leaves, send your child over with their own child-sized rake and encourage them to help. Not only will this be helpful for your neighbor, but it may also bring a sense of laughter and delight, for both child and neighbor. And, it’s great exercise too!
▪ Turn birthdays into an opportunity to give. Many organizations are looking for volunteers and these events can actually align well with a birthday party. Feed My Starving Children (fmsc.org) has locations in multiple states, and children ages five and older, when accompanied by the appropriate number of adults over age 18, can pack food that is then sent to people in need all over the world.
▪ Adopt a family during the holidays. Many schools and religious organizations adopt families in need, and you can be assigned one person or an entire family. For these situations, you then go and buy Christmas gifts for the family members that you are assigned. You wrap them and deliver them to an assigned drop-off location. These gifts are then delivered to the family before the holiday so that they have gifts to open on Christmas morning. Children will enjoy selecting a special gift for another child, especially knowing that their gift may be the only present that child receives for Christmas. If your local school or religious organization do not participate in such an activity, simply conduct an online search for “adopt a family at Christmas."
When we make it fun for children to give to others, they begin to find it as an enjoyable experience that they will want to continue, even into their adulthood. Further, when we start early enough, our children can make this a part of their regular routines, and in many cases, look for additional ways that they can do something nice for someone else in the future. ■