Summer of Generosity

by | Jun 20, 2014

During the last month, I had conversations with two different mothers, one with average family resources and one with significant resources. In spite of their differences, they had one desire in common.

Both mothers hope to raise generous children. Both mothers have questions about how.

I’ve heard this concern repeatedly over the years. A family with few resources is just as likely as a family with great resources to express this concern and ultimate hope. One child or many children, the hope is the same – generous children.

Entire books are dedicated to this subject. They all boil down to actions taken by parents, actual experiences and talk. Don’t let this summer melt away without embarking on at least one generosity experience.  In the midst of planning vacations, trips to camp, and swim time with friends…….find time for one generosity experience. With very young children, the experience is most likely shared with at least one parent or other siblings.  As the child ages, the experiences change, reflecting the age of the child. Eventually, the child owns the experience.

Around five years old is a great time to begin generosity experiences. Without going into detail, the Baby Lab at Yale University has given us a glimpse into how babies and very young children think. Markers of generosity begin to show themselves at much earlier ages than we expected. It’s great news, pointing toward the work inherent in raising generous children.

Even babies are watching. Watching and learning. What’s a mother to do? Take it one year at a time. Plan at least one experience every summer.  Early it is most likely modeling while they tag along. Later, it’s their own choice for volunteering or giving. Encourage your teen’s initiative when choosing where to volunteer or give.

Make it a tradition every summer.  One more thought – help experiences stick by talking about them. Research tells us children are more likely to become generous when given the opportunity to talk about it. Don’t worry about whether you have all the right words every time.   Just talk.

What will your family generosity experience be this summer?  Share your ideas with us.

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