Not long ago I was asked to be a contributing writer for GetConnectDad, a web site created and written by dad bloggers. Each week, the GetConnectDad writers write about various character traits and how they try to teach those traits in their homes. My first assignment was almost late, and it never got published on the site. (I know… Great first impression.) I decided to post the article below in full. So, without further ado, here is what “Be Generous” looks like in our home.
And then hop on back to GetConnectDad to check out other great articles.
I asked The Bug this afternoon what it means to be generous. Her answer was… well… kinda spot on. “Showing that you care.” Not bad, Bug, not bad.
I thought my next question would nail things down for us. “How does our family show that we are generous?” (I had to ask that one a couple times for her to understand what I meant.) “When you helped Pop Pop up when he fell down in the ocean. You showed him you care.”
So… We have some work to do. (I mean, I did show my dad that I cared when I helped him up, but I think that’s a different character trait.)
A few years back, Audio Adrenaline made a comeback with their signature song “Kings & Queens.” This song quickly became a family favorite, and it their use of the phrase “the least of these” really opened up some conversation points with The Bug.
Every year, our church does a major Thanksgiving Food Drive, when we fill thousands of boxes with Thanksgiving Dinner to spread to the needy in and around the Cincinnati area and even send shipping containers of food to our sister church in South Africa. Why do we do this? Because Jesus told us to take care of the least of these.
A little over a year ago, our church challenged each family to support a child from Nicaragua through Compassion International. We went into the service knowing that our funds were stretched too tightly and we would have to pass this one up. God knew differently. We now support a teenage girl in Nicaragua and have her picture up in our kitchen. Why would we do this? Because Jesus told us to take care of the least of these.
So, teaching The Bug to be generous would be an easy task. Right? Well, maybe not. When you sit down and think about it, these examples I gave are quite abstract for a seven year old. She helped pack the boxes for the Thanksgiving Food Drive, but it didn’t hurt her wallet. She sees the picture of the girl we sponsor, but she doesn’t have any interaction with her. While these things are generous, I’m not sure they become lifelong generosity lessons.
What does generosity look like in the day to day world of a seven year old only child living in America?
- My wife’s hot chocolate had marshmallows and my daughter’s didn’t…not till my wife spooned them into her mug.
- It was time to pass out cookies, and my daughter offered the plate to each of us before taking her cookie.
- When Daddy was sick, other people helped out the family with food, doing chores, and helping with babysitting.
- It’s Daddy putting down his computer to play a game when he really should be writing a blog post about generosity.
- It’s giving her an allowance and making sure she sets aside 10% for Jesus to put in the box in church.
As I sit here and think about it, teaching about generosity is living a life of being generous in front of our daughter so she can see it in action. It’s a bunch of little things that show her a really big thing — IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT US.
So maybe she wasn’t so wrong to begin with. When I show you I care, I’m generous. Maybe I’m using my money to show I care, but maybe it’s my food, my strength, or my talents. But I care about you more than I care about me.
And I hope that when she is older she can point back to us and say, “I’m generous because they were generous with me.”
Here are some pro tips to help you out.
- You want a generous kid, you gotta be generous. It’s all in the modeling.
- Have her take part in the generous acts when possible. When they participate it sinks in further.
- Listen to some good music. Music always makes things better. Rock out.
- When in doubt, do some Beans and Rice Week. Donate the money you save to the charity of your choice, but the food selections will make memories for a lifetime.
Let me know how you’ve been teaching your kid generosity because I’d like to learn more.