Some basic thoughts about generosity as we enter the season of gratitude and thanksgiving:
1. Generosity means giving or sharing freely things you value. Material possessions, money, time, love, forgiveness, kindness are examples of things we value. Giving away a broken or unwanted toy. . . not so much.
2. Generous kids give with a positive spirit. Giving because Mom and Dad said they had to. . . yeah, doesn’t fit the generous category.
3. Generosity means that we give without thought of reward and without strings attached. The joy of giving is enough. We expect absolutely nothing in return. (Read The Rainbow Fish and talk about the joy he felt when he learned to share what he had with others.)
4. Giving is tied to empathy. Kids have to think about what someone else needs or wants in order to know what to give. If we give our kids everything they want. . . they will never know what it means to want. How in the world are they ever going to understand someone’s needs if they have never felt a little twinge of wanting something themselves? Don’t give your kids everything they want and maybe even let them wait a bit for something they need. (I’m not talking child abuse here, people.)
5. True generosity is going to mean some level of discomfort. It is ok to let our kids suffer in some way. . . not just ok- but necessary. If a child, in a moment of generosity, gives away a favorite toy- do NOT go buy another to replace it. They need to understand that suffering a bit is not going to kill them.
Raising generous kids in today’s culture can be hard. However, with perseverance and intentional actions. . . your kids learn the joy of giving.