Christmas is only 10 days away friends! Can you believe it? Sara, our parenting and motherhood contributor, is here today to share her thoughts on Teaching Your Kids to Give. This is something that is near and dear to my heart, and I love that Sara has so many great tips and resources for us in today’s post!
A few months ago we learned that one of our neighbors was in need of a bed. They have three children, two boys and one girl. The girl being the baby of the family was able to sleep on one bed but the two large boys that are over the age of ten shared the other twin size bed. Here’s the thing, we had a bed that wasn’t being used. It’s the bed that our 14 year old used to sleep on before she moved out. We have sleepovers with her but not often enough where we would need a bed instead of an air mattress.
Before taking the bed to our neighbor’s house we had the conversation with our 16 year old that her sister’s bed was needed elsewhere. This was a hard thing to talk about, fragile that her sister was no longer living with her and also that she hasn’t “owned” much in her life, giving something away was a hard concept. After our discussion, whether she understood why we needed to give a bed to someone who needed it more than us or not, we logically walked it over to our neighbor’s house.
Considering the time she has spent in foster care and various things that she has experienced in life, I did not expect our daughter to grasp the idea that someone might be more in need than she was. But it opened my eyes to the fact that I had to start teaching my children to understand the meaning of giving if I wanted them to become givers. I personally know adults who would give the shirts off their back to people on the street. Even my grandmother once took my dad’s only pair of shoes because a homeless man was barefoot; she knew my dad could afford to buy another pair! I admire the people who have giving hearts, who so naturally consider others’ needs before their own.
I recently found myself walking down the aisles of Target trying to explain to my three and four year old that we are picking out a toy for another child. My son gets whiny and likes to become a noodle that falls to the ground when he’s mad and my daughter just cries out of sadness that the shopping trip isn’t for her. It would be so very easy to just not include them while I’m purchasing a gift for a child in need but I’ve decided it’s a battle I’ll choose. Even at their young and naturally selfish age I want my kids to see what giving looks like. I want them to see that mom can provide for someone else’s tangible needs. I don’t want everything to be about whether you celebrate Christmas or not, blessing someone can happen all year long. Fortunately this time of year provides you with many opportunities to give as organizations are trying to keep people warm and fed. My kids are still very young, especially my one and two year olds, but if our family “adopts” a family each year to bless it will become a tradition to shop for another family. And year after year as my kids practice giving, my prayer is that their desire to give flows over into the rest of the year. Thinking of other’s needs before your own is countercultural, so I know that it’s my responsibility to teach my children to be givers.
Are you thinking about giving something a little extra this season? Maybe you are looking for ways to include your children in a service project? Contact some local homeless shelters or group homes to see how you can serve or what they are in need of this season. Find some churches around you; they are often doing projects that serve people in their community. Talk to the principal of your children’s school to see if there is a family in need that you could be a “Secret Santa” for.
And if you need some other ideas, here are some organizations that do huge Christmas operations:
Do you live in Phoenix?
If you’re a Momma like I am I’m sure that putting someone else’s needs before your own is what you do all day every day. You’re already modeling that for your kids, but don’t forget to talk about it as well. We are raising up the next generation, which is kind of a big deal right?!? Let’s turn our little humans into loving, responsible and compassionate adults.
Sara (A Mom’s Battle of the Selfie)
Bed image source