Nine Best Life Lesson Tips to Enhance Generations of Giving

by | Aug 31, 2022


Blinking lights. School zones. Weather changes.

Fall is right around the corner. Recent rainy days here at the start of school reminded me of my first day in middle school. I proudly wore a dress I made in the Singer sewing class over the summer.

In full disclosure, my mother remade portions of the dress, and I never sewed another garment. That summer, I learned what I never wanted to do again.

It was also when the adults in my life seemed determined to teach various life lessons before it was too late.  That reminds me of a story I heard from a dad about one of those life lessons.

Adopt a Child Births a Young Philanthropist

He shared that his young daughter asked if she could adopt a child in another country, and his reply was, “Oh honey, the organizations that say they do that are just scams, and the money doesn’t really feed the child.”

She was a determined daughter and set out to save her money and do it anyway. She kept the picture of the adopted child on her bedroom mirror for many years.

Adopt a Child Creates a Philanthropy Teacher

Fast forward to that same grown-up daughter who now has her own daughter and a picture of another adopted child on her refrigerator. Her daughter is very proud of what they are doing together.

What made this story great was listening to the dad describe the realization his daughter was going against his advice. What made it even more fabulous was the granddad describing how proud he was of his daughter and granddaughter.

Harry Truman famously said, “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”

The Fix is a Life Lesson

Parents worry about raising selfish children in a materialistic world. Yet, so often, the fix is right in front of us. As Harry said, figure out what they want to do and then advise them to do it. Helping children learn about giving by supporting their early philanthropic interest is valuable parenting work, the kind that teaches life lessons.

 A Fix for All Ages

Does the same advice apply to adult children? What if you know your adult child will give to causes you don’t support? What if they want to give in different ways than you did? Harry’s advice is as golden as ever.

 Simple Tips:

  • Ask what your adult child is interested in and why.
  • Listen to the answer.
  • Follow Harry’s direction and advise them to do it.
  • Wait about six months and ask them to share what they learned.
  • Listen again.
  • Ask them what they want to give to next.
  • Advise them to make the gift.
  • Check-in and ask what they learned.
  • Keep listening.

Repeat these tips until they start asking for your advice.


Avoid giving your advice or at least give them very little.

The Next Best Step

Ask them for advice on something you give to and start listening again. Then follow their advice.

It’s a circle of learning for everyone in the family- dad, daughter, grandfather, grandchild. That’s where the best life lessons can be found, in what I call circular modeling.

You learn from them; they learn from you as the circle goes round and round.

What life lessons about giving are you sharing with your children – young or old? And what are you learning?


Like it? Use it. Share it. Comment below.


  1. Gail McGlothin

    No greater work than raising the next generation of compassionate, giving people.

  2. Steven Dickey Arnold

    I am in search of a way to make all our giving anonymously and helping others realize the effect of this philosophy. How can this be facilitated in the real world?


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