I was Christmas shopping at the mall with Anthony, my seven year old grandson. He saw a bell ringer from the Salvation Army. He chimed in with the bell, “Can we give money to the poor people?” he asked several times as the bell rang. I said “Yes we will give a dollar before we leave.” He said “Why not $20?” Indeed, a valid question! He is so sweet and wants to give to those who have less. Reminds me of a scripture in Matthew 25: 40 where Jesus gave a story about sharing with those less fortunate. He capped off the story with the lesson “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Did Anthony’s little sweet heart know that he was sharing with the God of the Universe? His motive was helping those less fortunate, but the blessings he would receive are out of this world. He also has donated (with mommy’s help) some clothes and toys he had outgrown.
How do you raise a thoughtful young person who wants to give and not be selfish in this culture that cries to satisfy your own self? Here are some gentle suggestions:
1) Awareness – Enlighten them to other’s situation. This knowledge will bring out an empathy for others.
2) Example – Show kids enthusiasm and excitement when you yourself give with a joyful heart. Demonstrate how making someone’s life better is fun, perhaps by serving meals or giving some clothing. Let your grand children see you put money in the bell ringers bucket.
3) Chores – They will benefit by doing some chores to earn money for the benefit of others. Or they could devise a plan to help victims of disasters, such as gathering water bottles for hurricane victims. Encourage them to come up with a plan of their own.
4) Be A Friend – Visit someone who is lonely like as a widowed neighbor or a new kid at school who has no one to play with at recess. Anthony was himself that new kid at school this year. He can reach out from his recent memories of not having a friend and remember how thrilling it was to be included and make a new friend. When he was in kindergarten they studied feelings and the teacher asked, “How would you feel when you met a stranger in school?” Anthony surprised me with his answer. I thought he would say afraid, instead he said he would be happy, because he had a chance to make a new friend. If only we adults would feel that way!
5) Recycle – Cleaning up Earth gives to the future of our planet and our future in spectacular ways. It shows a deep level of caring about our friends, family and those with whom we share the planet. Anthony was recently picking up trash at a fair and he said keeping our planet clean is hard work. Teach them hard work is always rewarded.
6) Golden Rule – Granpa Cratchet has a show teaching this. He says it’s surprising how many kids don’t know what this means. Treat others like you want to be treated. Watch the movie and have fun learning a life lesson.
7) Value – Be intentional about instilling value in our young ones so they will grow up realizing how special they are. Enthusiastically tell them how awesome they are! This will effect the rest of their life as they take on challenges and become responsible, caring, productive and loving members of society. Their contribution and character should never be minimized, but maximized.
Anthony has a checking account with his name on it. I showed him how to write a check for $20 to the Salvation Army. We put it in the mailbox with the flag up. I explained he was giving $20 to the poor people, just like putting it in the bell ringer’s bucket.
Perhaps one day he will help raise more money by being the one ringing the bell. Watching him write that check rang a bell deep within my heart and made me feel like one awesome grandmother.
May you and yours be blessed this Christmas Season! Debbie