Disclaimer: it wasn’t our great parenting skills!
I wish I could sit here and tell you that we did everything right as parents. I wish I could even say we did most things right. The reality is we did a lot of things right and a number of things wrong. We made many mistakes along the way. In the final outcome, we have 8 pretty great children – but much of that can be chalked up to who they are, not who we made them to be.
With that disclaimer aside, we did try to build a heart of giving in our children. Now, some of our children will tell you that they find it more blessed to receive than to give. Even in the depths of that truth, they still find it joyful to bless others in giving.
Giving begins at home.
This may sound strange and a bit selfish, but I have found that the first place to start with giving is at home. It is so much harder for our young children to give to their siblings than to give to someone else.
- siblings don’t appreciate your generosity as much
- siblings won’t give you the kudos that you get from others
- siblings won’t let you share as much with what you gave away
- siblings might still not let you play with their favorite toy that you’ve been eyeing for months
Just like we teach our children to get along with one another before they learn to get along with outsiders, we teach our children to give to one another. This season offers a great opportunity to teach that giving through making or buying gifts for all the members of the family.
With a family our size, this can come to a great deal of money – except that we chose to use the Dollar Store as our preferred shopping experience! We give each of our children (now only the ones who don’t work) a $10 bill and a basket and send them off to shop up and down the aisles thinking about who they are buying for and what would be a special gift for them. Sometimes the gifts are a little bizarre (like the 3 sets of eyeglasses with moustache attached that Dad got one year), sometimes their grasp of reality is a little off (like the 4 dog chew toys in the shape of a ball with a bell inside that were given to our 12 month old son one year). But they are bought with a great deal of love and wrapped with delight. Many of the name tags are written with funny comments specific to each person.
Our children learn that the giving to others can be a real joy, and the whole experience speaks love and delight in the other person.
What are you doing this holiday season to help your children build a heart of giving?
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(image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net)