Sunday, November 18, 2012

Charity Schmarity

With the holidays upon us, I find myself wondering, once again, if I am doing enough to encourage acts of charity from my child. I am uncomfortable with the focus on charity reaching a fever pitch around the holidays and then lying dormant the rest of the year. Or at least that is how it seems to go for most families. For our family, we are heavily involved in a charity (Boxer Rescue) so for us it is a year-round affair (feeding and caring for dogs that don't belong to us, attending rescue events, etc.) However, we are still faced with the specter of our daughter's lengthy Christmas wish list each year. I feel the need to counter the "I wants" with at least one concrete, tangible "I give."

Last year, we adopted an angel tree recipient named Bianca. I purposely chose a girl who was close to my daughter's age in case it might help A to identify with Bianca in some way. Well, I am embarrassed to admit it, but my kid did not lose any sleep over Bianca's plight. There was no real empathy, no mi casa, su casa action.

So, I think I should try a new tactic this year. I think maybe I should let her choose a charitable endeavor on her own. I sat down with her this afternoon and suggested that she should think about donating part of her allowance to a charity. She gave me an odd look.

"A charity?"

"Yes," I said. "You know . . . do something nice for, or give a little donation to, someone you don't know. A stranger."

She looked even more confused now. "A stranger?  Well, we don't know the people in that one house down the street. I guess I could give them some money." 

"Oh, I didn't mean to pick a random . . . hey, let's talk about this later, okay?

I don't know. I don't feel like a charitable act should be something that's forced. Charity shouldn't be limited to the holidays either, of course. What's a mom to do?

At the holiday parade with her pop


Mary said...

I hear ya and certainly agree charity should not be forced. I think they may learn though by your example and certainly they have a good example. She may be at a age that she still has to learn more about it. Every year we would pick a couple of names off a tree that needed gifts. The kids helped pick them out and we also went and bought food for the church pantry that gives out Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for people in need every year. Also every since I was 20ish I've supported kids in different countries so they may go to school and get the care they need. When the kids got older I continued to support a chile and the kids chipped in to support another child. It was fun for them because they would exchange letters and pictures and that made it very real to them. I know A isn't old enough to do that but something for the future maybe... Sometimes I wish I could live as a kid and not know all the hurt and cruelty in this world but sadly as they grow older they learn more and more which gives us more opportunity to try to help others. Just like Boxer rescue I wish there was no need but there are tons that could use some help!

Rachel or Rae I answer to both said...

Empathy and compassion are two of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child, it's also something they are never to young to learn. She see's examples of that daily through you because of the person you are and through your work with boxer rescue.

When the boys were younger they would help at coat & food drives, gather wished for items for the local veterans hospital, work at the soup kitchen in Camden, help at the drives for the local women's shelter & homeless shelter.

We had them help with the collection and the delivery. They saw first hand that not everyone has a warm home, enough food, toys, warm clothes and understood why THEIR help was needed. They also learned it's not just about money or stuff, sometimes the people you are helping just want someone to talk to. A. would be great at that, maybe she could get together with a few friends, sing a few holiday songs, have a snack & play checkers and chat with a few seniors or vets?