A friend and I were chatting online recently and ended up talking about how we fear that our children will grow up to be entitled douchebags. (Bet you didn’t think I’d use the word “douchebag” in a post about giving.) Maybe it’s all my years of Catholic schooling, or having a hippie mother, or growing up in a family that sometimes struggled to afford the things we needed, but I place a lot of importance on realizing that there is always someone who has less than us. However, I’m finding it difficult to convey this to my children.
At church this Sunday I saw a perfect opportunity. In fact it was my own first experience with giving way back when I was in kindergarten. In the back of the church was a pile of “Rice Bowl” boxes. These are little cardboard boxes that you fill will with coins during Lent and then give back so that the money can be used to feed (and educate and clothe and medicate) people all over the world. I picked one up and brought it home for Brady.
I was so excited to share this with him. When I was little I imagined some little girl halfway across the world, whom I was helping and I tried to fill my box with money to send to her. But Brady’s response was, “Do I have to give back the box?” When I told him that yes, he did, he replied “but that’s not fair, why should other kids get to keep my box?” and he stomped off to his room. I was crushed, and angry, and very, very disappointed.
The husband and I talked to him and he was firm that he did not want to give away the box and that it was not fair. But he started to ask about these kids who didn’t have enough food and we told him. He decided that he would put coins in, but still wanted another box to replace it. I told him that he would not get one.
After school yesterday he started to add money to his box. He had my mother-in-law contribute and he shook it to hear the coins. Today he told me that he would give the money and the box to the kids who didn’t have enough to eat. He asked me to read him the words on the box. It asks what you are giving up for Lent so I told him that I gave up cookies and muffins. He thought for awhile, made sure that you didn’t have to give it up forever, and then decided to give up the iPad. Not our iPhones or the iPod, mind you, but I think it’s a pretty good starting place as far as self denial goes.
I’m feeling a lot better about the whole thing and the husband and I are hoping to do some family charity in some way or another sometime soon. And maybe I’m a little closer to not raising an entitled douchebag.