By Louise Gleeson
The holiday season is now behind us, and so are many of the charitable drives and fundraising campaigns that are so much a part of the season of giving. For my busy family, it’s all too easy to move on and forget the need for charity is always there, and perhaps even more so when the holidays end.
So how do we help our kids understand the value of charity year round?
Now that my children are old enough for their concept of community, society and the world to be broader than our day-to-day family life, I’m feeling the need to encourage awareness of others and generosity more than ever. In other words, like many parents, I don’t want to raise spoiled humans.
Jennifer Asling, mother of a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old, takes advantage of the momentum she and her daughters have after filling shoeboxes with gifts for an organization at Christmas.
“I could see that they were engaged in doing it and becoming more aware of the need in our own community, so I want to start bringing them to a charitable organization in our town so they can do something more hands on,” says Asling.
Psychotherapist and parenting educator Andrea Nair says hands-on experience is a great idea for older children. For younger children, starting the conversation about others in need and then finding a way to make a difference as a family is better.
“Words are always less upsetting than visuals [for younger children],” says Nair. “But don’t underestimate your kids, either. Most will be curious, ask questions and get motivated when they hear they can make a difference.”
Here are some of the ideas our family has implemented:
The most important step you can take for raising generous kids is, of course, by modelling generosity yourselves. Let your kids see you participating in random acts of kindness and being generous with your time and money. Once you get your family started on it, you’ll see that the confidence and good feelings they get from giving will have them wanting to do more.
A member of momstown since 2007, Louise Gleeson has contributed to Today's Parent, Canadian Family and various other publications. Her blog, Late Night Plays, was named one of the 75 Most Influential Canadian Mom Blogs and 24 Mom Blogs You Should be Reading. Louise lives with her husband, four children and puppy on the west side of Toronto.