Teaching our children good financial stewardship is an important life skill, and part of that includes sharing some of what we have with others in need. As parents, we need to model how to be generous to our kids, but that involves much more than just how we handle our treasure; we also need to model generosity with our time, talent, and other ways as well.
Let’s face it, the world isn’t going to show them how to be selfless. So much of our modern culture is very me-first and me-focused. But part of helping create a better world for our children is encouraging them to have an open-handed and open-heart attitude to those around them.
Let’s encourage our kids to have an open-hand/open-heart attitude to those around them.
Through the years, my wife, Susan, and I have involved our children in serving others. From helping at Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless to short-term overseas trips working in impoverished communities, we’ve encouraged our kids to serve others. Here are 5 Places You and Your Kids Can serve Others.
Here are 5 ways to model generosity to your kids.
1. Your time.
This is the ultimate expression of how much we value something or someone. Where we invest our time is one of the greatest ways we model generosity to our children. Are you helping your elderly neighbor by mowing their yard or taking them to the grocery store? Are you mentoring the young man next door who doesn’t have a dad at home?
2. Your words.
You may have heard the joke about the long-married woman who asked her husband why he never told her he loved her. “I told you I loved you the day we got married,” he replied. “and nothing has changed.” Sadly that’s kind of how many people think, but positive words of encouragement and affirmation are like water to a dry spirit. Are you generous with your words of praise and encouragement? Do you make a point of thanking others for what they do, of praising their character, and telling them how special they are? To help you get started in your own home, here are 10 Compliments Your Kids Need to Hear.
3. Your hugs.
While good verbal communication is essential, there are times when we can say more without words. We need to be careful with this one, especially with the opposite sex. We also have to be respectful of other’s space and boundaries, but physical hugs offer what some really need. I think especially of how older people, maybe who are widowed or live far from family, can be starved for physical attention. A hug can also be welcomed by someone who is grieving from a loss.
4. Your talent.
Perhaps you have expertise in the medical arena and can serve with your kids on a missions trip where you can help others. Or, maybe you have financial expertise and can help someone who doesn’t have the means with their finances. Whatever it is, your talent can be used to serve others. You can be a model of generosity to your children.
5. Your possessions.
We show that other people matter to us when we are open-handed with the things that matter most to us. A friend said the other day, “I’ll let people use my car, but I get really uptight if they want to borrow a book!” What possessions do you value most? Are you willing to share them with others?
This final point actually sums up generosity pretty well. If it’s not costing you something, in some way, then you may not be as generous as you think.
Which of these areas is it more difficult for you to be generous in, and what can do you about that? Share your thoughts and experiences here.