How to Nurture Generosity in Your Children

What a great topic! I love it, so I’ll hand it straight over to Jamie without further ado…

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Guest Post by Jamie Martin of Steady Mom

Steadymom1

Photo by Milena Mihaylova

One
Sunday afternoon our family of five headed out to visit a friend. As we
drove, my husband was telling the children about his job with Love146,
an organization combating child sex slavery and exploitation in
Southeast Asia. He was leaving soon for a work-related trip to
Cambodia, and described to our kids the poverty there.
When
he finished, all was quiet – for a few minutes. Then a little voice
piped up from the back seat. “I know what we could do, Daddy, to help
the people. We could buy them a cow. That way they would have milk to
drink – because they probably get so thirsty.”
Tears
filled my eyes as I listened, amazed by my child inventing solutions to
poverty. How can we nurture these generous spirits, I wondered?
Over time, I’ve developed a few ideas:
1. Discuss the importance of giving.
Some parents believe finances shouldn’t be discussed with children, but I disagree. When it comes to generosity we need
to talk to our little people. When you give, let your children know
why. Read stories and biographies with them in which characters
sacrifice to give to others. Discuss Bible verses that inspire giving.
Proverbs 11:25 is a good example: “A generous person will be enriched,
and the one who provides water for others will himself be satisfied.”
Other verses to consider: 2 Corinthians 9:10-11; Acts 20:35; Proverbs
19:17; and James 1:27.
2. Model generosity and involve your children in the process.
Don’t
just write a check to your favorite organization and mail it. Let your
children watch as you write it. Say a prayer together before sending.
There have been times in our family when we’ve had “Giving Days.” For
this event, we would give our monthly online donations together as a
family. The children would gather around our laptop after dinner, and
we’d pull up websites of various organizations that we support. One by
one we would submit our donations, letting the children take turns
clicking the mouse to send the funds.
We
invite the children to pray (if they want) for those who will benefit
from our money. It always touches our hearts to see our two
internationally-adopted children praying for others in their birth
countries.

Steadymomtwoboys

3. Watch for natural opportunities to reinforce this valuable lesson.
Returning
to my initial story, my husband and I wanted our son Jonathan to
realize that buying a cow could make a real difference. It was an
unsought-after opportunity to reinforce generosity. So we searched for
organizations to donate toward the purchase of a cow for a needy family.
Throughout
the year, many opportunities arise to involve your children in donating
toys or school supplies for various holidays. Take the time to seek
these out and watch your kids get excited about the joy their gift can
bring to someone.
4. Don’t quench your child’s generosity.
There may come a time when your children want to give away something you think they should keep. If at all possible, let them be generous.
Recently one of our sons wanted to give his favorite book, which he had
recently received, to another friend as a birthday present. I talked
with him, making sure he knew he wouldn’t get it back afterward. He
understood, and he really wanted to bless someone else. I let him, and
he hasn’t regretted it.
Some families require their children to set aside part of an allowance for giving. This can be a good exercise in teaching the discipline of giving. But generally, I think mothers should focus on inspiring generosity instead of requiring
it. A child’s personal motivation will produce longer-lasting results
than a parent’s force. When giving is a lifestyle, it becomes a natural
way for a child to interact with the needs he or she notices in the
world.
In the process of nurturing generosity
in our little ones, we find ourselves blessed. Through the act of
giving away, we gain infinitely more – depth in our relationships, our
marriage, our children, and our faith.

How do you attempt to instill a generous spirit within your family?
Jamie writes about her journey toward becoming a more intentional, professional mother at her blog, Steady Mom. She candidly presents the realistic picture of her successes and
struggles doing life with her six-year-old daughter and two
four-year-old sons (not twins!). In between moments of living and
learning with little people, you can find Jamie with her nose stuck in
a satisfying book.

About The Author

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Comments

  1. Good post. Thanks for the reminder. I need to put a post it on the frig. This is so important.

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  3. This post was such a blessing. I’m going to focus on this with my sons.

  4. I appreciate these tips from a more experienced mom. Above all, nurturing a generous spirit in my daughter is incredibly important to me. For years, my younger cousins have made Christmas donations or purchases (cows, chickens!) in my name as a gift. I’ve always thought that was a great tradition.

  5. What a great topic and great guest post. This is something we need to spend more time and effort on with our kids and thank you for pointing it out!
    One idea that we use is to carry items of need in our car so that when we see someone asking for help we have socks, a blanket, granola or a bottle of water to offer. We also try to make a point to introduce ourselves and ask the names of those in need so we can pray for them and address them by name the next time we see them. I think that is giving the gift of relationship to those who are often seen as outcasts of our society. Our three year old is always aware when we see people in need and asks what we have to offer.
    I also think Heidi had great points about making wise purchases that will benefit people even though it may cost us a little more time and money to do so.
    Thank you again.

  6. Stephanie,

    I enjoy reading your blog. I think you have the right perspective when it comes to kids and life in general.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I nominated you for the Superior Scribbler Award. You can read all about it here:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_jbcnjjNju6g/Spc1–qVZyI/AAAAAAAAAP8/CrjYRouJiHI/s1600-h/superior_scribbler_award.jpg

    Or you can visit my blog and follow the links there.

  7. Katie, I don’t mind my writing being corrected. :) I think I actually knew that at some point, but for some reason it looked correct when I wrote it. Now that you point it out, it’s obviously wrong, LOL! (And fixed!)

  8. I love reading all of your ideas, ladies! In our family we support several sponsor children, and it’s really important for us to share with our kids about why we give to those children, to write letters to them, to pray for them, etc. We also talk about simple ways that we can serve and be generous to others, like when we make a meal for someone else, or lend out our baby clothes, or help somebody move, or buy groceries for a family in need. Opportunities to be generous abound in everyday life, and I think it’s so important for children to be included in our response to those opportunities!

  9. I love the part about allowing children to give away something you think might not be the best idea. Sweet post about something that doesn’t come up often enough.

  10. Great post! It can sometimes be a challenge raising children with generous hearts, but well worth the effort.

    BTW, I hope it’s OK for me to point this out… it’s actually “without further ado”, (ado means fuss or concern, as in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing). Adieu, used as goodbye, literally translated, means “to God”.

  11. Thanks so much for this post! I think this concept is so important to teach our children. I wasn’t raised thinking giving was all that great, and it has been such a chore to train my head and heart when it comes to truly giving. But my husband and I made it a goal when we got married to be givers, and the Lord has truly blessed us through it. I love finding new opportunities to model this for my children. A few weeks ago my son saw a man asking for money at a freeway off-ramp and wanted us to go home to get his nickels so he could give them to the man. My heart melted!!
    And not only do we try to teach our kids to be givers, but even in our giving of gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc… or when we need to purchase something for our family, we try to buy consciously. We buy shirts that support Compassion, necklaces that support women in Uganda or books whose proceeds go to fighting sex slavery. We research companies and organizations that offer goods for sale to support a cause we believe in. Even in our purchases for ourselves or others we can be giving to those in need.

  12. We love Operation Christmas Child as well, Cottage Comtesse. It’s a good way to take the focus off self during the holiday season and model that with our kids in a concrete way….

    Jamie

  13. Jamie has such wonderful suggestions! Thank you for sharing!

    We encourage our children to participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse each year. This is such a great activity for kids because we go on a special shopping trip to purschase items that they can pack into a shoe box and send to a needy child. They love picking the items. Now we look for things all year long!

  14. Thanks for this. Our family motto is “when people need help, you help if you can.” As a preschooler, my son can understand this and it is a basic principle that is applied easily in new situations. It has helped him understand our giving away old clothes and toys and our giving time that he would have rather spent in a different way. And at the same time, I feel like it sets the bar pretty high for all of us and since our lives are full of rich blessing, it is truly our desire to be generous in as many situations as possible.

  15. Great post. Great suggestions!

  16. Thank you for sharing! I was just thinking about this and other things that I want to be able to teach my kids…but have no real idea how to, since I wasn’t taught it much myself and therefore lack the role model. Thank you! I am going to print this off so I can look at it again.

  17. Tara McCrary says:

    This is such an important part of raising kids. I find that I long to see this is my girls and love it when I do. For example, we recently had a fire in our neighborhood that left a family homeless. Our family decided to give money to this family. Together we signed a card and put money in it. As we drove up to the house my 7 year old daughter took $10 dollars out of her own wallet and handed it to me to add to the card. My first reaction was to tell her she didn’t have to give her own money. She was terribly upset and said she wanted to give. It truly brought tears to my eyes. In blessing that family, we were truly blessed ourselves. It was awesome!!