Teaching Charity to Your Kids
Relay for Life
My son, and his sandwich board.
As parents, we have two main jobs in child rearing: nurturing our children, making sure they have everything they need and teaching them how to behave. The cliche is true: our children are the future. The lessons we teach them can impact them more than we think. When they are young children, the lessons we instill in them don't necessarily sink in right away. They'll start to share a cracker with us as toddlers, to show their love, but they won't share a toy with another child right away. After a while, they share more and more because as they get older, they realize that it's the right thing to do.
When I first became a parent, I didn't have much to give to my child. People gave to me and helped me out, and I promised that I would teach my children the importance of helping out. I was raised with a strong sense of charity, and I wanted to make sure I raised my children to have that same social consciousness. Every time we go to the grocery store and when you donate to whatever charity and you have to put a name on a display, I would write my eldest son's name to be put up to make him proud that "he" had donated money to help. When he learned to write his own name, he would gleefully take the pen from me and write it himself. I was proud that this lesson had sunk in pretty well. Once he was even happier when he had seen our names scroll across a screen during a telethon for The Jimmy Fund. This was very exciting for all of us, and I couldn't have been happier.
Soon every time my son saw something on the television about a charity that needed a donation, he would say "we need to donate to them, they need us Mommy". Every time he saw a soldier, he would salute to them, because "appreciating them is the same thing, right?" I nodded and smiled with pride. He had learned that sometimes even something as little as a smile can help out. He was turning out exactly as I'd hoped.
When he started the 4th grade this year, he came home asking me to allow him to be on the student council. I thought this would be great for him, he was always on the shy side and I thought that this would really help him out of his shell. I agreed, and the main principle of student council was community service. This was a fantastic idea and he made it on the student council, one of two 4th graders out of 12 people. The rest were 5th graders, and with the older and bigger kids, my son would have to learn to have his own voice. I didn't think I could be more proud of him
On my blog, I wrote about how his student council was putting on a canned food drive for the local soup kitchen and had a goal of 400 cans. They didn't meet this goal, and my son tearfully announced this on the school announcements. He was upset they didn't do more. It made me tear up as well. A few months later as a student council member, my son escorted a soldier around to read to the classes and presented him with a certificate to show the school's gratitude for his service to our country. I saw my son growing up into a perfect member of the society.
Then last week, I received the perfect Mother's Day present. My son was going to join the student council on their Relay for Life team to walk for money. Seriously, how much more proud could I be? I've had family members pass from cancer, so seeing him walk to fight the disease that took people that I loved from me was absolutely amazing. With pouty eyes, he asked for me to walk there with him. I did, and it was a great feeling.
This affirmed to me that my son was going to grow up making a difference. I was doing exactly what I had hoped, and raising my child to be aware that people aren't as fortunate as he is. It's his job, as it is our job, to help the less fortunate whenever we can. I can't wait to see what the future holds for him, and I cross my fingers I did my job as a parent to show him how to be a great person. I hope he teaches that lesson to his children and maybe the world would be a little better place. We can make the world a better place, one child at a time.