It seems that kids today are exposed to far more cultural influences through mass media than ever before. Much of those influences glorify hollow values that few parents would like instilled in their children. One could argue that it is much harder to teach your kids what is truly important in life while they are exposed to such disruptive influences.
Material possessions are often advertised as a goal in their own right, as symbols of stature and success we should all strive for. We live in a world where greed is considered normal, and appearance is more important that essence.
A child may find it very difficult to differentiate right from wrong in such an environment. That is where family time and doing charity work in various forms can be extremely helpful.
But, how can you teach your kids the value of charity? For a start, you have to participate as well.
Giving Out Old Clothes and Toys
A middle class kid will seldom get the chance to find out how those less fortunate really live. It is all too easy to forget how lucky one is when you don’t have the chance to see the world beyond your comfortable life.
When you take them to your local charity, try to make that an enjoyable experience for them. Once they feel the joy of giving and the addictive feeling when they get to see a smile on the face of someone else that was the result of their actions, they will want to do it themselves.
Just make sure to put them in a situation where they can feel sympathy for their fellow man, and the rest will come naturally.
Encourage them to collect their old clothes, toys and anything they don’t need and, when you feel they are ready, take them to a homeless shelter, or donate it to your church, or an organization like Toys for Tots. It is very important not to force them to do it, as they will end up hating it.
Also, try to encourage them to make friends with someone their age in such a place. There is nothing better for the development of a young mind than to have the chance to feel something beyond their safe and situated little world.
Many people around us need help now and then. Try to teach your kids to notice those people, and encourage them to help if they can.
Again, it is very important not to force them, or just send them to find someone to offer help to when you think it is the right moment.
That will cause the opposite effect. Conditioning is very powerful at a younger age. It is enough to feel negative emotions just a couple of times in a certain situation, and the negative feelings are immediately attached to situation for good.
This powerful subconscious bond will not be easy to break. It is best if you take the kids with you and encourage them to do something themselves when the opportunity presents itself.
It is also very important not to make charity be all about sacrifice. Take them to sports competitions (especially if you allow your children to play sports) or any event they can enjoy. Family time can be well spent playing charity lotteries together. For example the Mater Foundation holds charities that let you win a house or a car, and the kicker is that even if you don’t win (and let’s face it, you likely won’t), you know that the money you spent won’t go into some rich man’s pocket, but will be spent helping patients in hospitals, for cancer research or on a similar good cause.
And really, there are so many other ways to give that your imagination is the only limit. The point is to show your kids that it is possible to have fun and to do something noble at the same time. This will help them to view charity work in a different light.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want generous children.