(Inside: Teach your kids to give from the heart using the once-a-month strategy.)
As a family, we’ve been intentionally working on teaching our kids to give this year.
And before I even go on, I must say this. As a mom, you can read a website full of ideas for raising your kids and feel like you’re not doing “enough.” Just, no. We only focus on one “thing” at a time with lots of breaks. Please don’t read my posts and cleaning and giving and kindness and all-the-things think I am over here making big magic happen simultaneously.
What’s that saying? “If you strive for everywhere, you will get nowhere.”
Instead, we are a normal, busy family. I’ll reflect on how life is unfolding and my kids’ personalities, and something will spark my heart that we need to learn a little more in a certain area, whether it be getting homework turned in or helping parents cook. So, I’ll focus on that a bit. And, often, I record stories and have resources on this page.
One thing at a time. That’s an effective way for kids to learn.
So, now that that’s cleared up, onto this topic. We’ve been on a year-long journey to help our kids notice community needs and give. Here’s a recap if you’ve missed it:
We’ve had our normal ups and downs and being effective, then not, but in our journey, it’s been fun to watch my kids engage with giving.
I know how good it is for kids to learn to be generous, for themselves and for others. Parenting.com says,
“The benefits of actively fostering children’s charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped ‘gimme’ impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone’s life. ‘And as corny as it sounds,’ says Patricia Schiff Estess, a New York City writer and the author of (Amazon affiliate link) Kids, Money & Values, ‘when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world.'”
That lesson floating around our home for a year, yes, please.
However, through it all, I didn’t want our family’s Once-a-Month journey of daily showing God’s love in tangible ways to be the parents’ journey – I wanted my kids to be ALL IN too. I wanted them to have some agency.
So, for this last month, they each choose how they wanted to give, often just paying attention to the opportunities that conveniently popped up in front of them. Here’s what happened…
- God nudged my husband and me to give to a local food pantry.
- One son gave up first base during PE because his classmate really wanted that position.
- Another son proudly told us, “I was really nice to everyone at daycare.”
But another son (we have three) – what he did especially made us smile.
He’s all boy – his warrior’s heart best connects with people by taking them down. Lots of spunk and energy. (And parents trying to funnel it in positive ways.) Since this encouragement, we’ve noticed him serving us more: sharing more with his brothers, helping me around the house…etc.
But what really impressed me was, he received a blue ticket at school (the highest honor) because he said he’d work with anyone during partner work time. A few days later, I found out there was more to the story. My son had volunteered to partner with his down-syndrome classmate. He has befriended this little boy and has been genuinely excited about playing with him. Oh, my goodness…to see the gentle side of my warrior.
This has made me think.
In all this giving, a higher lesson is emerging.
When we invite Jesus into our lives, He promises to live in us. That means all of the wonderful characteristics of Jesus that made us want to follow Him are actually inside of us.
Those qualities that I desire to be bigger in my life (kindness, gentleness, patience, a positive attitude), I just need to make room for them to grow. Sometimes this is intentional, like our family mission to serve more. Sometimes, it just means making space in my life for doing things that rejuvenate me such as writing, reading, jogging, and photography – they all give my brain time to ponder and grow desirable qualities.
What an exciting thought.
God lives in us, so we can access His qualities at all times. The point of our once-a-month journey was to share God’s love more in a tangible way, but this second purpose seeped out in a powerful way. To KNOW GOD LIVES IN US – so we have access to His transformative power to do big things. (Light bulb – on.)
This is the conclusion of our year of focusing on teaching our kids to give. We’re officially ending my “Once-a-Month Strategy” with the hopes that I’ve instilled some values in my kids and awareness to continually look for ways to give.
I know the waves of life will take us back to a place where we forget – and we’ll have to pay attention to this anew. But it felt good, for this year, to be intentional about teaching this lesson to my kids.
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Our family’s Once-a-Month Giving/Service Projects were featured on parenting.com. (This blog’s original name was Since I Became a Mom before it became Empowered Moms and Kids.)
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.