Give Away: A New
By Colleen Langenfeld
As the holidays approach this year
and gift-giving (and shopping) begins, I can recognize one true
My kids don't NEED anything.
That being said, I still want them to
learn about the blessings of giving and receiving. I also want them
to learn about personal limits. I especially want them to
learn that not everyone has it so good. Moreover, that leads into
learning that they have a responsibility to others.
If you are interested in teaching
your kids similar values, here's a simple exercise that can get them
thinking along these lines.
Go through their room and belongings
- together - and create a giveaway box.
'Oh, I do that regularly', you may
say. Great! But this time, do it intentionally, and with your child.
Maximize the teaching benefits such a time provides:
Your child will probably be getting
new stuff for the holidays. Fill a box with the toys, clothes and
such that no longer fit, are used up, or are broken. Talk to
your child about sharing the wealth!
Fix what you can and donate it. By
doing this WITH your child, they learn about thrift, value and
recycling. It's a wasteful society that says something only
has value when it's new. In addition, it's satisfying to make
something be useful again.
Follow through on your
donations...together! Let your child research charities that are
gathering toys for the holidays. Let your child figure out the
details of getting that box of clothes to the right group whom can
put it to use. Kids are hungry for leadership roles; let them
organize a neighborhood clothes or toy drive for the needy in your
area. (Remember to lend your adult supervision to all of their
Talk about the toys they got last
year at the holidays. Are they still playing with them? Why or why
not? This is another great way to get your kids thinking about the
value of their possessions. Talk about how many hours it took to
work last year to have the kind of holiday your family enjoyed. Ask
your child if they would be willing to work that long for someone
Create ways for your children to give
to others. Once they're thinking about helping, it's natural for
kids to come up with simple solutions to the problems they see. Some
of those gently-worn clothes could be sold at the local consignment
shop and the money used to buy a Christmas dinner for a family that
wouldn't otherwise have one. Those no-longer needed books and
puzzles can be cleaned up and given to the local homeless shelter.
And on and on!
After the clean-up work is done, have
your kids create their wishlists for this upcoming holiday season.
Talk about a family budget and what is reasonable for 'stuff'.
Consider encouraging everyone to forfeit one item on their list and
then use that money to improve another family's holiday season.
By doing this regular 'chore' as a
family project, you can share your values with your precious
children and start a holiday tradition that can have tremendous
meaning for your family for years to come!
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