Raising generous kids

In a world that is eaten whole by materialism and the “gimme, gimme” attitude, it can be difficult to uphold the value of charity. Truth be told, several folks still give, but each has his or her own motive which could be anything including, but not limited to public recognition, compensation, returned favors, spiritual or religious obligations, and of course, personal fulfillment.

The society, in general, undervalues the virtue generosity these days. For many, the true and unconditional act of giving is as close as one can get to impossible, especially in this generation of WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) mentality. However, people are also seldom aware of the benefits of giving without expecting anything in return. These benefits are as timeless as they are priceless.

There is gold in genuine generosity.

Christopher Peterson, a research psychologist behind A Primer in Positive Psychology, states that looking outward and being concerned of other people’s welfare, instead of overly indulging in one’s self, is more satisfying. In another study published by LiveScience in 2008, it was indicated that a greater happiness booster was when folks spent for others. Surprisingly, spending for oneself did not bring about the same amount of happiness. Bio-ethicist Dr. Stephen Post confirmed in a 2007 article that there have been several studies proving how genuinely generous people lived more fulfilled and happier lives.

Materialism is a burden that eats you from within and crowds you from the outside. Notice how the more material things you have, the more mentally taxed you are, and the more you crave? Material things give you more obligation than convenience, as you have more things to call your own and take care of. When you are generous, you become less materialistic, and acquire more time for activities and experiences that are pleasurably intangible.

Generosity is also a self-esteem booster. When you sit by a friend and offer to listen, and they unload their burdens, don’t you feel proud of yourself for offering time? Have you ever taken part as a volunteer in outreach programs for orphans or tragedy victims? If you haven’t, you probably are missing out on the best feeling in the world – a warm glow in your heart.

A charitable attitude towards life gets you away from focusing on yourself and helping you see how big the rest of the world is. You become more interested in other people, events, cultures, needs and discover how diverse experiences in life are.

Finally, the Machiavellian effect: when you’re generous, you become committed to helping people become like you. Most people know how to appreciate generosity, and the best way to be appreciative, is not to return the favor, but to pay it forward by being generous to others.

Get started on giving today.

Raising a generous family starts with making a personal commitment to be generous. A common misconception about giving is that it needs to be material. Even when you don’t have a lot of start with, here are ways you can learn to embrace a habit of giving:

  • Give time. This starts with your family and your friends and the practice will gradually catch on. You do not have to spend a fortune to give everyone quality bonding moments. All you need is time, and the rest is up to your creativity. Take the time to help an elderly cross the stress, or a stranger carry heavy grocery bags.
  • Give talent. When you’re good at a skill or two, offer help in any way you can. Again, this is beyond material. You excel at math, and a colleague struggles with it – sit down and give him or her tips that you find work for you.
  • Give kindness. Never choose who you want to give to. A random act of kindness could be anything under the sun – as long as you keep in mind the welfare of others instead of yourself.
  • Give love.  A smile is an act of love, even for strangers. Being patient with people who are different is love. Learning to appreciate people beyond what’s skin deep is love.

Grow a generation of generosity.

Virtues are best learned when one is young. Even as a toddler, a child sees bits and pieces of what’s good and what’s not.  There’s no better teacher than your own actions, but here are some ways you can give your kids a heart of gold to grow up with:

an early age little ones learn to share food, clothing, and other things with those around them. These children usually grow to become well-adjusted mature adults. A very simple way to tell whether your child is generous or selfish is to observe them while they are playing with other children. A young child who is selfish will be very possessive with their toys. Often they refuse to let anyone even touch them. A generous child would of course be willing to share. Many children’s behavior is picked up from observing their parents.

A major factor in helping your child is the continuous encouragement given by their parents. You do not want to make your child the center of attention, but you also do not want to neglect them either. The personality of whoever your child is around will definitely rub off on them. So it is important that you choose your child’s association wisely. Too often many parents feel that this type of behavior is just a phase, and that they will grow out of it. When this behavior is first notices parents should work toward uprooting it as quickly as possible.

  • Bond. Be generous with your time with your children, and make it a point to think of activities that don’t require money or material things. This way, your children will learn to appreciate little things in life that can’t be bought with money. This is a good start.
  • Share. During playtimes, observe your child for whether he or she shares. A generous child will let other kids touch his or her toys, and may even have the initiative to say, “you first, then me.” If your child is possessive, mediate and offer ideas on how to share toys like taking turns or swapping.
  • Give. Make it a family practice: At the end of every season, encourage the kids to clean out their rooms and closets and put everything they don’t need in a box to give to charity. Take them along when you bring the boxes over to an orphanage or a relief center. Give them time to mingle with orphans or victims so that they understand the purpose of giving.
  • Create. Foster resourcefulness and creativity by encouraging your kids to create gifts instead of buying them.  This teaches them, too, the value of giving with love.
  • Volunteer. Depending on how old your kids are, take them with you to volunteer in outreach programs, whether it’s a clean-up drive or a relief program (for tragedy-stricken victims).
  • Encourage. Show appreciation for every act of generosity that your kids make, whether it was your idea or theirs.

 Skinny Mom Fact: Numerous studies have confirmed that the more generous people are with their time, money, talents, and feelings, the happier they are with their lives.