Share the Joys of Giving Back with Your Children
Instead of just giving me an allowance as a child, my parents insisted on teaching me the value of money, and at the same time the value of giving. Every week when I got my allowance, I had to split it into three sections: spending money, savings money, and giving money.
I learned at a young age that giving to others should be just as natural as providing for myself. Having spending money allowed me to go out with friends for a Slurpee. Saving money, however, I didn’t fully understand until I was older. I was a bit attached to my saved money, but after contributing to my grandma’s birthday celebration for the first time, I slowly began to understand the reason for giving.
This important lesson is one I have made sure to teach my own children as well. However, in addition to monetary giving, we also stress the importance of giving back through volunteering and donating items.
In our house, we see volunteering as a wonderful way to spend time together as a family while also doing something good for people in need. There are so many ways to volunteer and so many places within our community that can benefit from help. We help out at several organizations during particular times of the year, but we also try to find new places in need.
Sometimes it’s as simple as sorting items for our church’s yearly “Trash to Treasure” sale. Other times we join a group that is doing a half-day cleanup at a local park, or we may make special door hanger crafts and deliver them to the disabled folks at the nursing home or else play bingo with the more active residents. One time my older son took his trumpet and played a tune for everyone to hear and sing along. The whole family marched around the care center, and although many could not respond well, we knew we had brought some joy to their day.
As kids get older, they can also find their own opportunities, like joining a youth group or tutoring children who need extra help after school. My teenage daughter especially loved when she was chosen to go out with the local mission to serve hot drinks and hand out blankets to the homeless.
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I also stress to my kids that an important part of giving back involves donating. I encourage them to regularly look through their closets for items that are too small or that they haven’t worn in a long time. There are always people in need who would love to have those pieces of clothing. We do the same type of evaluation on common household items, and if we get something new, we always try to donate the piece it was replacing. We have a slogan: “Everything must have a home.” This little slogan supports the removal of excess items, and we feel good about passing those items on because they will get a new “home.”
This year, I encourage you to share the joys of giving back with your children. They can learn so many wonderful lessons, and it’s a great value to instill in them at a young age.