Enid Ablowitz: Teaching the next generation of givers
What do kids think about the holiday season? For many, it's "more, more, more!" More sweets. More parties. More gifts.
Whether its chocolate coins, stuffed stockings, wish lists for little boys and girls (and big ones) or ubiquitous sales, promotions and temptations, the month of December can be a cacophony of consumerism. Yet, notwithstanding the underlying reasons for celebrating each of the holidays, this time of year can be so much more meaningful.
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles: Carpe diem! Teach the children in your life about giving.
Children imitate what they see and hear. If they see their families demonstrating generosity, they are more likely to be generous themselves. If they know their elders are saving for the future, but also writing checks to support causes they believe in, they grow up understanding more about SGS money management (Save, Give, Spend.).
If they hear the people they trust talking about giving to their place of worship or to a scholarship fund, or to help save the environment, they understand that these things matter and the seeds of giving by the next generation have been sown.
Be proactive in teaching children to give well.
Here are a few conversation starters while you are enjoying these next few weeks:
Lesson 1: Reciprocity
The concept of reciprocity is easy, right? Action, reaction. Get a gift/give a gift, or the reverse, give a gift/get a gift. But wait, do we really want our children to believe that if a gift is given, one be expected in return? Isn't that teaching a sense of entitlement?
Talk about giving without getting. Giving for the pleasure of it. Giving anonymously.
Lesson 2: Getting what you want
How many people feel disappointment when the gifts they get aren't what they want? This isn't about young children, ("Yes, Victoria, there is a Santa Claus"), but do we really want our older children to be disappointed if they can't have as much as they want, or exactly what they want?
Talk about gracious receiving and gratitude.
Lesson 3: Gifts aren't always wrapped in pretty paper
Those mountains of boxes and bows are exciting and are part of the festive season. But many of the most precious gifts are those we simply acknowledge: like security, abundance and health.
Talk about combining reciprocity with gratitude and how the combination can translate into deeper, more meaningful giving.
Lesson 4: Brainstorm age-appropriate ways to give
Sometimes it takes a little creativity to get a conversation about giving going. Make it a game. Take turns coming up with ideas on how each of you can give, then commit to doing them.
Talk about some of the ideas below and let each person articulate what he or she could do in each category: