Nov 18, 2011

Teaching Kids Generosity

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

Mathew 25: 34-40

Do you ever look around the world and think: What selfish, self-centered people! You're not alone.

It's natural for young children to thinking selfishly, but it's our job as parents to lead them away from this behavior toward generosity, compassion, and biblical servitude.

One way to do this is to help our kids focus on giving. Any time of year is the right time to give, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner - and, often, gluttony along with them - fall and winter are ideal times to focus on generosity.

* Together, read and memorize Bible verses on generosity. (Ideas include the parable of the sheep and goats, Acts 20:35, Prov. 19:17, 2 Cor. 9:6-7, 1 John 3:17, Prov. 14:31, and Luke 12:233-34.)

* Teach your children about those with less. We are extraordinarily wealthy in the United States - so much so, we often loose track of just how much more we have than so many others around the world. An easy way to show your children what life is like elsewhere is to do a few Google image searches. For example, you could search "third world children" and come up with a wealth of images of undernourished kids, children doing back breaking work, and extremely modest housing and clothing. Print out the images and help your child stick them into a purse-sized photo album or turn them into a lapbook project. Then start discussing the images: "Do you think that house is warm or cold? Do those children have lots of toys? What do you think it's like for a child to go to work each day?"

* If a disaster takes place, share it with your child. You may not want to share a news report with young children, but you can still show them carefully selected images of a recent earthquake, flood, or other disaster. Ask questions like, "Where do you think that man will live now that his home is ruined? How long do you think he might have to work to earn money to replace it? Do you think he has enough food?"

* Allow your kids to see your generosity. If you give a homeless man a meal, your kids will notice and learn.

Link * Take care of others together. Volunteer - as a family - at the local homeless shelter, or get involved in a group that visits the elderly.

Link * Give your children a way to help on their own. Give your child opportunities to earn money - give them extra chores, for example, or help him gather and turn in soda cans - then teach him how to set some aside for charity. Help him choose a cause for that money to go to; for small children, offer only two or three choices, to make the selection less daunting. Try to make sure your child knows exactly what her money or donation is going toward. Some ideas include a local Christmas giving tree for children, a care package for children living in poverty, or Blanket and a Bible.

How do you help your children learn thankfulness and generosity?

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