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Archive for the ‘Teaching Kids to Give’ Category

Replacing the “Gimmies” with Giving

November 20th, 2013 - Category: Teaching Kids to Give


Buying 5 extra turkeys at Thanksgiving and ding-dong-ditching them at different houses.  One year I fell over a curb as we were running away and I scraped my knee.

Singing carols at the retirement home across town.  One old lady held my hand the entire time and cried when we had to leave.

Taking baked goods to neighbors.  I can’t even count the number of plates that were delivered over the years.

Hand making family gifts.  As kids we would rotate who had who, and it became a great quest to see who could come up with the most thoughtful (and cheapest) homemade gift.

Donating one of our own gifts to a homeless shelter.  I remember thinking my sister was crazy.  She donated her prized gift that year, a cabbage patch doll.

Volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  We met Dan, a cherished friend.

“Adopting” a family in need for the holidays.  They had 6 kids.  We bought a new set of clothes and a toy for each of them.  I remember my negative attitude that year.  I was upset because it meant that I would get less.

Leaving a large sum of money on a widow’s door step.  Her husband had died earlier that year.  I remember the amount and have tried to find a widow to give the same amount too every year since I’ve had my own household.

These are a few of my favorite holiday memories.

In contrast, last week we asked our kids for their Christmas Lists.  Their lists were detailed beyond belief and overflowed on both sides of the page.

Sadly, I have to admit, that I haven’t been as good at teaching generosity to my children as my parents were.  I’ve been so eager to make my kids happy and to show them how much I love them, that I lost sight of the lessons I wanted to teach them.

So, how can we instill good values in our children that will influence them not only for the holidays but for the rest of their lives?

Here are a few ideas that I was going to try to implement this year.

Discuss what the holidays mean to everyone.  Talk with them about different ways to be generous and grateful.  Ask them what those words mean to them.  Talk about examples that they have seen of someone being kind.

Set limits ahead of time.  If the real reason for the season is getting lost beneath a pile of presents, discuss how much is enough when it comes to gifts.  Talk about the difference between “want” and “need” and then decide on the number of presents or an amount of money to spend on each child.

Encourage them to give.  Whether it’s a local need or a favorite online charity, help them find a cause that they can contribute to and feel like they’ve made a difference in the world.

Homemade = Made with love.  It really is the thought that counts, especially when the recipient is a close friend or relative.

Help them to be more alert to those in need.  Welcome their input on who they think would benefit from a surprise turkey, or who could use a new pair of shoes.

Model gratitude and generosity.  Being a good example is the best way to teach your children.  Bring them along when you drop off dinner at a sick friends house or take a donation to a local shelter.


What are your favorite holiday memories of generosity and being grateful?






Generous Giving

August 28th, 2013 - Category: Teaching Kids to Give


This morning, I paid $76.54 for an unknown woman’s groceries.  She didn’t have enough money at the register so I told her I’d take care of the whole thing for her.

I don’t tell you this so you’ll pat me on the back and think that I’m some spectacular generous person.

Rather, I feel anything but, because of the things that led up to it.

About a month ago, I was watching a you-tube video about a man that donated a kidney to his wife’s friend.  Wow!  I can understand donating a kidney to your wife, or one of your kids, but I sat there in awe, thinking how I would never consider giving my wife’s friend a kidney.   Shameful, I know.

Then I had a plane trip.  My seat was upgraded to first class because of frequent flyer miles.   I stood in line waiting to be boarded, with my hectic schedule flying through my mind.  A soldier stood a couple yards in front of me.   Then I heard the woman between us ask him where his seat was.   He told her middle back,  and then commented about how fun it was going to be on such a full plane.   She quickly traded him seats, giving him her first class seat.   Callous, right?

The next week, my 9 year old daughter was invited to a birthday party.  On the invitation, the little girl asked that instead of a present, that a donation be made to be given to a small city in Mexico that needed a well for clean water.   The thought never even crossed my mind.  Terrible.

And just the other day, I was having dinner at a restaurant and saw two missionaries there.  I didn’t know their religion.  Then I saw an elderly couple walk up to them and pay for their dinner.  Humbled by degrees.

So, this morning, when I was standing in line at the grocery store, and the woman in front of me pulled out several different cards, trying to pay for her formula and baby diapers, I jumped at the opportunity to reclaim my dignity.  I didn’t offer to just pay for what she lacked, I paid for her entire cart full and then just smiled as she thanked me profusely.

I have been mulling these experiences over in my mind and I wanted to share with you the main lessons that I think I learned through this.

1.  I need to be open and alert to others needs.  Half of helping is recognizing that there is a need.

2.  I need to be more creative in my giving.  It isn’t always about money.

3.  I need to be more generous, even when it’s not convenient.  Especially when it’s not convenient.

4.  I need to be quick to give, ready in an instant to be kind.  If not, the opportunity may just pass me by.

Tim Keller says, “Living is giving.  We live life best when we give ourselves, our resources, our competencies, and our time in service to others…  If you spend your money on yourself, you are just surviving.  But if you want your life to count, if you really want to live – give.”

Ron Anderson says, “We thought that financial freedom came from accumulating as much as we could and if we gave more away, we would have less to enjoy.  In reality, the more we gave, the more we enjoyed and the more freedom we experienced.”

Lynne Payne says, “I have discovered an excitement in giving that’s unique and distinct from every other gift.  It’s ironic that in separating myself from something of value, I receive back something of even greater value.  It’s a great way to do life.”

I encourage us all (myself included) to give generously and live generously.

And next time when a body part is needed, or a courtesy is granted, or help is offered, or relief is given, I hope it’s me that’s doing the giving, instead of the watching.