Many of us here in America are wealthy by international standards; we have clean water, climate controlled homes, and ample access to fresh, nutritious foods. Our children participate in sports, have gaming systems, swim in pools, and have more toys than we can keep organized. When this climate of wealth is the norm in our children’s lives, it’s easy to develop a gratitude problem. If we don’t instill and model the regular practice of thankfulness, our children are less likely to see and seek to meet the needs of others. The gift of charity and global awareness is truly essential to a life of gratitude, and arguably more important than golf or guitar lessons.
To get the conversation started, check out these 5 ideas on how to grow and inspire charitable giving in your children.
Involve Them in Toy Donations
It’s far easier to sneak unused toys out to the local thrift store while your kids aren’t looking, and sometimes that may be needed. However, when you do that, you rob your children of the idea of surrendering something small for the greater good. When our children recognize their own excess and use it to help others, their compassion and charity has a chance to blossom.
Make Giving and Gratitude a Regular Conversation
Just like any important topic involved in healthy parenting, there is no such thing as a one-time conversation. Try using car time to engage your children about the lives of children in need both locally and abroad. Ask them how it might feel to be in the shoes of others and what they could do to help. Their ideas may just surprise you.
Volunteer At The Local Animal Shelter
Kids love animals – they’re innocent, cuddly, and an easy way to introduce children to volunteerism. Start by encouraging them to use some of their allowance to purchase and donate dog and cat food to a local shelter or animal rescue. When you drop it off, ask if they can play with or cuddle a shelter animal. Be sure to talk about the experience on the way home and what it means to not have a family.
Join a Child Sponsorship Program
Having the photos of sponsor children on your fridge is a daily reminder that we are called to serve those in need. Encourage your kids to join you in supporting your sponsor child. Invite your family to write letters that center around understanding what life is like in a vastly different culture.
Model Service and Volunteerism
When your children see authentic charity and generosity in your life, they are far more likely to model it in their own. Take donating blood for example. If your children see you participate at a blood drive, they will probably ask you if the needle hurts. You can take that opportunity to explain to them that while it hurts a little, it’s more important for hospitals to have blood in storage to help people who are very sick or injured. A little pain now is worth it to help save lives in our community.
True charitable giving is an outpouring of a thankful heart, it centers around truly caring for the least of these in our neighborhoods and abroad. It’s essential that we don’t use children in need as object lessons for our own kids, but instead center our conversations around the basic needs and inherent value at the heart of every human being on the planet.
At Restavek Freedom, we are committed to freeing children in Haiti by eliminating child slavery. Poor families often send their children to live with a relative in the hope of a better life. In reality, the host family uses the child to perfom all house chores for no compensation, turning the child into a slave. At Restavek Freedom, we are passionate about partnering with families, meeting their needs before they have to consider sending their children into restavek. Click here to learn more about our mission to end slavery in Haiti or here to sponsor a child in need.