Perhaps you’ve heard of the proverb, “It is better to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35, The Bible). Or maybe you’ve been contemplating why your children seem to value happiness and achievement over caring for others as a recent article from The Atlantic reported based on a study from Harvard University.
As parents, we tend to send the message that we want to raise ethical and caring children. However, the message they receive as modelled by our own actions and behaviour isn’t always harmonious. The Harvard study reveals that maybe many parents are merely paying lip service to the ideas of character education in the areas of empathy/generosity. Ouch! You may think, “Well, I teach my child to share toys with friends and siblings….” Or “I talk to my children about kindness and generosity”, but as the saying goes: sometimes action speaks louder than words.
Raising generous children starts with you: the parent. You must be willing to walk the walk and prioritize generosity as a family value. Here are a few tips for parents to put in place in daily life so our actions speak as loud as our words.
1. Take the time to be inconvenienced when someone asks for help.
– Give directions and possibly offer to have someone follow you if they are lost.
– Buy groceries (even a loaf of bread and a carton of milk) for someone asking for money for food.
2. Pack bags of food/necessities to have on hand in your car for when strangers ask for help.
– A plastic bag of granola bars/energy bars and bottles of water.
– Toiletry packets with a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of soap and lotion.
3. Volunteer at a charity as a family.
Giving the gift of your time together builds a stronger family bond. It allows you to walk out your generosity in a tangible way. Make this a recurring family activity.
4. Birthday donations instead of presents.
– Instead of gifts at your child’s birthday party, collect donations for a local charity in a jar with the charity’s logo on the gift table.
– Have your child give the gifts if possible. Rather don’t drop the collected donation off at the charity without your children as it is better to feel the joy of giving.
– Take the donations to the charity as soon as possible after the birthday party.
5. Radical generosity breeds radical generosity.
– Radically bless someone else but expect nothing but the blessing of giving in return.
– Perhaps your greatest need (emotionally) may be met by you having the joy of blessing others.
– Someday you may be on the receiving end of great generosity from someone else and you can pay it forward.
– Pay for the meal of someone behind you in the line.
– Give money to the customer ahead of you struggling to find the correct amount at the till.
– Give even though you feel you are in need yourself – be inspired by the parable of the widow who gave all she had.
6. Donate items to local charities.
– Having a baby shower but received duplicate items or this is your second child? Donate the items to THRIVE or a children’s home.
– Reduce Christmas excess with just 4 gifts this year: something they want, something to read, something to wear, something they need. Donate what you would have spent beyond that to orphaned and vulnerable children. Have your family pick them out, wrap and take the donations.
– Put a calendar reminder in your electronic calendar to pop up to clean out excess and shop for local charities.
Finally, here are some ideas for local charities to get started on blessing others. What charities have you supported? Please write and let us know!
Di Keletso Make a Wish Trust – an organization crowd-sourcing funding and in-kind donations to grant wishes to children with life-limiting illnesses. Have a read of an article that Family Gems wrote about the woman behind the organization.
BSPCA – the Botswana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
THRIVE – Play and nurture group. It’s a collaboration between Sensobaby, the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence and Botswana Global HOPE (Hematology Oncology Pediatric Excellence) program. It equips volunteers to bring play opportunities to children with cancer and other serious illness in the Paediatric Ward at Princess Marina Hospital.
African Havens – A nonprofit with a goal to bring a “Hope and a Future” to orphans, vulnerable children and needy families in Gaborone with a sustainable transformation.
Botswana Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre – Their shelter offers a safe haven for victims of domestic violence to women and their children as well as counseling and community outreach services. They need clothes and shoes for women and children as well as hygiene products.
Cancer Association of Botswana – Tshiamo Interim Home is a 22-bed unit which houses women undergoing cancer treatment at Princess Marina Hospital.
Thank you for reading. We hope these tips have inspired you.