This Christmas, Start a Family Tradition of Charitable Giving
Everyone knows that Christmas is the season of giving. But with all the emphasis on presents, parties and festive fun, the central message that ‘tis better to give than receive’ can easily get lost in the Christmas wrapping paper.
There’s good reason to instill a spirit of giving in kids whilst they’re young, though.
A recent study by Fidelity Charitable found that children who grew up in families with strong giving traditions are more likely to give and volunteer as adults.
What’s more, those same adults are also more likely to be happy with their lives overall, compared with adults whose families didn’t emphasize charitable giving when they were young.
How do you make room for one more family tradition during this time of non-stop activity? Here are some ways to start.
Lead by example
We already know that kids are incredibly tuned-in to what we do as parents. That’s why it’s no surprise that the research says one of the absolute best ways to raise generous kids is to be generous ourselves.
Starting this Christmas, talk with your kids about where you give your time and resources.
Do you already volunteer with a charity? Take the kids along and tell them why helping out is important to you.
Let them see you set up that direct debit to your favourite conservation charity. Tell them about a time you benefited from a charity and why it’s so important that people who can, give.
Expose kids to need
Many kids who grow up in comfortable homes and safe schools don’t realise there are children getting by with much less. That’s why it’s so important to expose kids to people from a variety of backgrounds—and talk with kids about what they learn.
Try reading a book together, like Those Shoes, about a boy who can’t afford the ‘cool’ new shoes, but discovers they aren’t as important as he’d thought.
The Can Man is another favourite for the primary school set, as it gently introduces them to the concept of homelessness.
For older kids, you can watch a documentary together and talk about how you might address the issues raised.
Encourage your child to write a letter to their MP, explaining why an issue—perhaps refugees or environmental conservation—is important to them.
Then continue the conversation by looking for articles, books and people you can learn from together.
Make a family commitment for the New Year
Of course giving isn’t just for the Christmas season. But you can use the Christmas holidays as an excuse to sit down as a family and make some ‘giving goals’ for the New Year.
This might involve the kids setting aside a portion of their own money each month for a chosen charity. You could also do some research into local charities that welcome families as volunteers. Often food banks will want people to help restock shelves on a regular basis, for example.
But volunteering doesn’t even have to be that formal. It can also mean committing to bring regular meals to an elderly neighbour, or picking up trash on the street every Saturday.
Whatever you do, try to do it as a family.
You’ll contribute to a healthier community, whilst teaching your kids that giving is something that is expected and celebrated in your family, no matter what time of year it is.