I think many of us as parents have spent a considerable amount of time teaching our kids that money doesn’t grow on trees (an expression we are required to learn and say the minute our first child is born) and about the value of charitable giving.
In our house, charitable giving comes in many forms. At times, it’s hands-on when one of us volunteer for an event or group. They’ve seen me help create charitable events (and have attended as my helpers). At other times, we help with monetary donations (an activity they get involved in themselves thanks to various school drives). Another way our family gives back is by donating items to groups in need (i.e. food for the Food Bank) or our second hand items get donated to help charitable organizations raise money (you can donate to local and national non-profits at Value Village).
Kindness by helping others, in whatever form that may take, can be tricky to teach young children. There are times when I say it’s time for a donation collection of their old books, toys or clothes and they easily grab one or two toys they no longer play with. That is great, but when they do it flippantly, as though the item didn’t matter in the first place, it can be bothersome. It tells me that we also need to talk about consumerism, reducing what we buy, and placing value on the items we do have.
How many times do your kids say ‘I’m going to save up my money to buy…’ or ‘for my birthday, I’m going to ask for…’ and then fill in the blank for a toy they saw on a commercial, or a video game. The problem is, at least in our house, that same money seems to be ear marked for many different items. Their list keeps growing without consideration for the the cost.
Insert the ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ routine.
We try to teach them about working hard to earn their money and saving for something that they truly want. The toy that they saw on a commercial and that will break within weeks isn’t an investment. And not everything can be added to the birthday or Christmas list.
When I take my kids shopping at second hand stores and thrift stores like Value Village, I appreciate that they don’t see a different between the dress on the rack in the thrift store or one they saw at the mall. They browse the books with the same enthusiasm they have at any large, new book store. It’s a great conversation to have with the kids at second hand stores about where our donated items are going, how others are buying them, how charitable organizations are benefiting, how we are helping keep old clothes out of landfills, the benefits of buying second hand and more.
As we enter a very busy season (and a season that is often purchase heavy thanks to Back to School), I’m reminded that the lessons of kindness, of helping, and of donating our time or resources is a continuous one. As a family we are always learning to find new ways to give back. I’m hoping my children are listening, watching and wanting to get involved. I won’t tell them what their involvement has to look like, but I do hope to give them the tools to help them decide for themselves.
It’s a commitment I’m making to them, and myself.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Value Village. I was compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.