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Thoughts on Giving

I read this article, “Gimme, Gimme” v. Doing Good: Teaching Children to Give, an article by Cynthia Ewer, from the website Organized Christmas, and it really spoke to me. The title seems pretty straight forward but it went a step further. The father of a preschool child wanted to teach his child about giving during the Christmas season. He decided to have his child choose some old toys to donate to “needy children”, above that he wanted his child to be able to personally hand the toys to the children. While on the surface this seems like a noble gesture but once the writer broke it down, it really made me think.

First, we generally teach our children to give during the “giving season” which there is nothing wrong with but we fail to address the needs of the less fortunate during any other time of year; as if there are only needs during the holidays. Second, we do not consider the stigma of having to face our benefactor when we are without; there can be a level of humiliation that comes with receiving when we do not have and if you have never been in that position it is not easily understood. While there is gratitude there can also be shame.  Next, we must consider with what kind of heart we are teaching our children to give with. Giving anonymously, with no recognition, is a selfless act that we should all aspire for; as the writer put it, giving with grace. Ask yourself, ‘how do I feel when no one acknowledges what I have done?’ Giving with grace is to give without an expectation of anything in return. I believe this is part of what society has lost, being able to sacrificially give without benefit.

Some of the ways the author mentioned to help teach children how to give with grace are:

  • Giving year round – needs must be fulfilled every day of the year. Volunteer or donate to Hosea Feed the Hungry or a homeless shelter during the “non” giving season.
  • Make giving real – having your child make the purchases and then taking the purchases to the donation site after they have worked to raise/save money to buy items donate. The author mentioned that her family used their Advent money to purchase goods for those less fortunate.
  • Give in secret – to be able to give without expectation of something in return is a blessing. It is your own personal secret and makes the giving act more rewarding. Recall a time when you did something for someone and they did not know who did it. Now recall how you felt inside. Hopefully it brings a sense of warmth and joy to your soul!
  • Allow your child to sacrifice – giving does not always have to be done when there is a specific need but because there is an overabundance. Instead of buying something new for your child ask them to allow the purchase to be for someone who does not have as much as they do.

After working with young children for the past fifteen years and having four children of my own, it is my belief that children who are taught to give at a young age grow up to be compassionate giving children. Now don’t get me wrong, my children LOVE to receive but although we have not always had a lot of stuff, all my children are willing to give their last or the literal shirt off their back. I believe that we must raise our children to consider others, be passionate and willing to give graciously or our future will be filled with complete and utter indifference.

Thoughts of Cynthia Wright


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