Teaching kids the joy of giving
In today’s society, there is a big focus on self-indulgence. Whether its clothes, cosmetics, vacations, vehicles or the latest electronic device, marketing departments everywhere are constantly reinforcing the idea that “we’re worth it”.
That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy our gadgets or our vacations but when there is evidence of need in every city, community, and country around the world, it could be considered a little unfair to be so focused on only impacting ourselves.
As children, we tend to be very aware of the needs of others and are often motivated to help those who seem to be in need. As we grow older and learn more about the world, it seems that we get a little more cynical, a little more self-focused and a little more reluctant to part with our hard-earned cash.
Our giving habit, like any other financial habit, is largely influenced by the actions and beliefs of the adults around us as we’re growing up. If we want our kids to be generous and empathetic to the needs of others then we need to give them opportunities to practice giving and we need to give them positive role models to emulate.
It’s true that giving doesn’t have to be financial; often a donation of time is far more impactful both on the giver and the recipient. However, making it a habit to give money we’ve earned to benefit causes that matter to us is an important lesson in sharing wealth for kids.
How your children can help others
So how do you inspire a spirit of giving in your kids? Some parents I know choose a charity as a family to support and each family member contributes a portion of their income/allowance. Others regularly volunteer time as a family to fundraise or to support causes that are important to them.
However you choose to give, it will be a powerful experience for your kids and overtime is likely to become a lifelong habit. Make allocating money for giving part of your child’s savings goals and then give them the freedom to choose where the money goes. Encourage them to give back to their community and to give their time to help others.
Outside of the feel good factor that goes along with being part of something positive, volunteering gives you something impactful to do as a family and often brings you into contact with people within your local community who become good friends and/or strong business connections.
The more you give away, the more that comes back
Whether you call it the ‘law of reciprocity’, karma or just coincidence, giving can often have the boomerang effect of causing even more wealth to flow into your life. Giving can also benefit us in school and in our careers; volunteer hours are a part of the requirement for High School graduation and Universities and employers often look at community involvement and extra-curricular activities when considering you for a position.
Giving their time and resources tends to encourage generosity in kids as well as making them more aware of the world around them and more tolerant towards others. It broadens their perspective and their perception of how they can make a difference in the world.
As our local community slowly and surely expands through technology to become a global community it becomes even more important for us to be involved in and aware of the wider world outside our borders.
“I absolutely believe in the power of tithing and giving back. My own experience about all the blessings I’ve had in my life is that the more I give away, the more that comes back. That is the way life works, and that is the way energy works.” – Ken Blanchard
Why it’s good to have more money than you need
For me, one of the biggest advantages to having financial security and to building wealth is that it gives you the ability to impact the lives of others through giving.
I’ve never been hugely motivated by money and so I was never driven to work overly hard at building wealth and financial freedom. I just wanted enough coming in to pay my bills, meet my savings goals and to allow me to travel; I figured if I had all those things I would be pretty happy with my life and I didn’t want to be greedy. I didn’t see any reason to accumulate more than I needed.
What changed my mind was talking to someone who had a great deal of money; he lived a very “normal” lifestyle but he was a big philanthropist who used his wealth to benefit others in a number of ways. Talking to him made me realize that building wealth not only gives you the financial resources to impact others through giving, it also gives you the time freedom to impact others in person through volunteering and actively managing where your money goes. That freedom was a motivator I could get excited about!
If giving is not already part of your family plan then why not talk to your kids this week about how they would like to be more involved in helping others. Choose a cause or causes as a family and figure out how you can make a difference this year through giving. You’ll be amazed at the positive effects it will have.