Raising Giving Children

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.

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I was so excited to share this with him. When I was little I imagined some little girl halfway across the world, whom 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. 

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7 responses

  1. The concept of sacrificial love, to give without receiving anything in return, is hard for young kids to grasp. I had a similar experience with my daughter when I asked her to give away shoes she could no longer wear. She resisted at first and then eventually came around. The important thing is that we’re trying to teach our kids to be ‘otherly.’ Hopefully, they’ll carry these lessons with them through life!

    • Yes, I know that this is something that is so difficult for young children. I’m just hoping that being a good example and putting them in situations where they do need to give will help them to understand as they can.

  2. A very wonderful post! It was an excellent read. Teaching your kids about the gift of giving and sharing is one of the best lessons that you can teach them. Kids are selfish in nature and it might be hard for them to share or give but when they will understand the reason behind why they are doing it, you will be amazed of how far they are willing to go. Kids who know how to share or give by heart are the most blessed. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for commenting! I’m hoping this is a lesson I’ll be able to teach. I checked out My Catholic Blog and it is so wonderful. Thanks for connecting me with it. As I read it seems each post has something I can relate to.

  4. Really enjoyed your thoughtful post. (You had me at the word douchebag;).
    I have really been struggling with this issue as well. One Christmas, we baked cookies and handed them out to homeless people. It kind of backfired, unfortunately, and they were afraid to do so this year. It was very scary to look poverty in the face, I guess. Perhaps it would be an easier place to start if we found some way to help homeless children. At least they are beginning to notice the people around them and understand that we are in a position of privilege. At the moment, though, they are focused on helping out the SPCA. Nice, but not quite what I had in mind…

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