I just measured the stack of letters from various charities seeking funding that has arrived in the last few weeks, and it’s two inches tall. That’s enough to create a Scrooge moment if there ever was one, but if your style is to tackle the stack and get it done as one more task to cross off your list, you might be missing an opportunity for a teachable moment with your children – of all ages.
Teachable moments are important according to Richard Morris and Jayne Pearle, author of Kids, Wealth and Consequences. Such experiences make “Family Glue” a sticky substance that includes shared traditions, willingness to learn and grow, genuine caring, mutual respect and trust. It can last across many generations.
What do shared traditions look like in your family? Do you wonder if those traditions will survive the changes that come with each new generation?
Morris and Pearle suggest that one tradition that creates “Family Glue” can be giving together. Giving across generations definitely increases opportunities to learn, grow and experience mutual respect and trust. It might require courage to start such a tradition in your family, but experience tells me that a family who gives together often grows genuine caring across the generations.
Here’s one way to help you start a family giving tradition. When your family gathers to celebrate the holidays, ask everyone to reserve $25 or $50 per family to bring and put in a bowl. (The suggested amount should be right for your family.) Encourage each family member to participate, as all donations to the money bowl count – even pennies from the smallest hands.
Provide small pieces of paper and pens beside a second bowl and ask every family member to write down their favorite charity or for younger family members, perhaps suggest someone or something they would like to help. They might draw a picture or cut out something from a magazine. You get the idea.
The next step is very important to creating a new family tradition that lasts across the generations. Ask the youngest members of the family who can read, and those who are barely reading, to take the “bowl of charities” and make a list of all the suggestions. Ask the list makers to read the list aloud. Be courageous, and let the list makers select the charity from the list.
The secret to making it stick? Make it fun, and repeat next year. That’s tradition – year after year.
How do you create Family Glue? We would love for you to share your traditions with us.