A lifetime of giving!
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
This is a great season to teach your child to give. I have counseled many families when their children get to their teens and they are at a loss to understand why their children are so selfish when they've modeled "giving" to them. The problem is that children don't learn to give by TAKING; they learn to give by GIVING.
In our society, families mistakenly revolve their lives around their children's activities. Lessons, teams, school, and outside activities for children have families revolving around children like planets around the sun. When children get to be teenagers, it isn't cute any more when the teenager thinks the family (and the world) should still revolve around him/her!
Take initiative when your children are younger to teach and show them the JOYS of giving. Establish patterns EARLY so that they become habitual as your child gets older. Let your children be a part of ministering to others. A few creative ideas:
*"Adopt" a senior residents' home with your children. I prefer a senior residents' home over a nursing home because a nursing home can be scary if the residents have severe problems. Bring little projects, sing songs, make a little program. Bring cookies (check with the managers to see who needs sugar-free or who has any dietary restrictions). Try to keep it going once a month throughout the year. You can join in with my friend Jessie and her daughter who go monthly to a senior residents' home near Hall Road and Schoenherr (http://www.jessnkj.blogspot.com). Or contact her by email: (contact Jessie by clicking here).
*Instead of making Christmas an excuse to over-indulge your children with piles of gifts that will not develop their character and will lead to unhealthy expectations as they get older, why not make Christmas a time to GIVE. Make a "giving tree" where you put ornaments listing things you do for others. Make a construction paper chain putting good deeds on the chain and seeing how long it can get. Put a list of people that need encouragement into a can and pick a name every day or two to see who you can call or visit or offer encouragement in some way. Adopt an indigent child from another country and take your children to pick out gifts for him/her (you can adopt a child the same age as yours). Adopt a family and go shopping and wrap gifts and visit them with the gifts (we usually took the children shopping for their families and each of my children shopped WITH them, offering the children from the other families the JOY of giving to their families with our help!)
*Have "secret angels" or "secret santas" in your home. During the month of December, we do little "secret" nice things for each other and put a note "ss". For example, make someone's bed, do their chores, leave them a small item (pack of gum, etc.). It teaches the family to look out to help the others.
*Call a local outreach and be a part of it. We have been a part of Gilda's Club, a cancer support group, for over 11 years now. My children have visited children afflicted with cancer, gone and done housework to help people who are dying of cancer, and volunteered at the Club doing odd things. They have also sent stickers and other things to help encourage the children.
*As your children get older, bring them with you to bring meals and visit families where they have lost a loved one. Teach them the appropriate things to say and do. Teach them to consider others' feelings and to not just rejoice with them, but to mourn with them. Let them carry the muffins in, say "I'm sorry for your loss," and do things so that they are comfortable with helping the afflicted.
*Let your children draw notes of appreciation to attach to little hand-made gifts to their teachers, coaches, Sunday school workers, Pastors, and any other people they need to learn to be grateful for in their lives. Teach your children the value of a little note and a little something to acknowledge others' efforts into their lives. You can even have them deliver a special note to the police or fire department of your city. Teach them to be aware of the many people that sacrifice to help them succeed.
Don't shield your children or make it awkward for them to reach out to those afflicted with sickness, disease, or death. You will know when it is "too much" or when they can be involved – most times they can play an important part in cheering up others. Let them be a part of bringing joy to others and seeing the reward in it. Capitalize on it afterwards helping them to notice how good it feels to share with others.
Have a blessed and GIVING holiday season – and keep it going throughout the year!